Disclaimer: I purchased this from Petrie’s (my FLGS) and am not being paid to review this product. Also, it is my goal to provide a spoiler free review (aside from what is spoiled on the back of the book).
Here we are at the final part of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. Although I only started reviewing this AP with the fifth part (Rasputin Must Die!) I have read through all of them and have started a group of adventurers playing through the Snows of Summer. It always intrigues me to see how other writers wrap up their campaigns. This is what this book is, the glorious conclusion where the PCs battle to free Baba Yaga and save Golarion from entering a new ice age. Sounds epic, at least from what is written on the back cover.
Part One: The Adventure – The Witch Queen’s Revenge
The PCs are still stranded on Earth, in Russia (see the last adventure). Having recovered the matryoshka doll prison from Baba Yaga’s son, Rasputin, they still must free the witch queen. The introduction to this book makes a very good point. What if your players don’t want to free the evil Baba Yaga? Well, it seems that she is the key to stopping her daughter from icing up Golarion. So it is a choice between the more immediate of two evils. Yes Baba Yaga is the bigger threat, but she is not the threat that is happening right now.
So the basic impetus of the adventure is seeking out pieces of Baba Yaga’s essence, which she had hidden away, to open the next layer of the doll. The PCs must travel through multiple demi-planes hidden in the Dancing Hut to recover her: fate, power, death, life and blood. It is a very cool concept, and while GMs are told they can mix up the order, it would be a chore to adjust all of the challenge ratings for the different planes. After the amazingly open adventure in Rasputin Must Die!, this one seems a little more straightforward.
Each demiplane has a unique feel and gives the players insight into the origins of Baba Yaga. Of all the demiplanes, the Island in an Endless Sea was by far my favorite. It is set up with both location encounters and timed event encounters. The final demi-plane, the encounter with Elvanna, and the campaign wrap up were very well done. The ending to the Reign of Winter was quite satisfying to read as a GM.
Part Two: NPC Gallery
Here we have the stat blocks for the major NPCs of the Witch Queen’s Revenge. We of course see Queen Elvanna, Baba Yaga’s daughter and the major villain of the Reign of Winter. As I stated last time with Rasputin, read her stat block multiple times and create some sort of spell/feat cheat sheet. She is a level 20 spell caster, so without a game plan on how to use her spells, the final encounter could be a less than epic conclusion for your players.
The other NPC is Vigliv which strikes me as odd. While she is a major NPC ally to the party, and a unique creature from Earth’s and Baba Yaga’s past, fighting her is a major derailment to the adventure. It seems weird to me to give her a full statblock complete with combat advice.
Part Three: Reign of Winter Treasures
Back firmly in the realm of fantasy, these items are more standard in design than the magical WWI items of the last chapter in Reign of Winter. However, as this is the end of the adventure path, the items are quite potent. Three of the six items listed here are artifacts, with two of the remaining three being powerful items in their own right.
Part Four: Continuing the Campaign
This section gives advice on what to do now that your players have finished the Reign of Winter AP. This section was amazing. It gives adventure advice for a variety of different fall outs from the AP. If your players are keen on ridding Irrisen of the perpetual snows that enslave it, or tackling the bigger evil that Baba Yaga represents, this section has you covered. It also references the new Pathfinder book, Mythic Adventures, quite heavily. This makes sense because…
Part Five: Baba Yaga
Replacing the deity section from the previous books is an in-depth look at the mythical adversary Baba Yaga. And Mythic she is. She receives the same treatment as the other deity write-ups with lots of information on her history. Her stat block, as a CR 30 mythic witch, does reference the new Mythic book. But if your PCs are keen on taking out the Witch Queen, this chapter supplies them with more than enough rope to hang themselves.
Part Six: The Ivory Tower
I have yet to go back and read all the short stories as a whole. While a lot of the mystery of this story is unresolved, that is ok. Irrisen is a land of strange magics and mysterious witches, so I feel it is appropriate to have some questions unanswered. It did wrap up the story of a Pathfinder who was sent to discover the mystery of the Bonedust Dolls, so you are given a resolution. I may feel differently if I sit down and read the six parts as a whole, as opposed to one chapter a month for half a year.
Part Seven: Bestiary
We wrap up this Adventure Path with a number of new creatures. What surprised me most of all was the wild variance of challenge ratings that appears in the last chapter of this path. I was expecting all CR 15 monsters and up. However, the writers supply us with five monsters ranging from CR 3 to CR 15. It increases the usefulness of this AP, in my opinion, by providing a GM a number of monsters for future games.
At this point, I have to assume that anyone looking at this adventure already will be buying it as they have the other five in the adventure path. As a stand-alone module, I don’t feel there is enough in this book to buy it on its own merit. However, when viewed as the end of the whole Reign of Winter Adventure Path, as it is intended, it is a fantastic end to this wintery ride.