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Reign of Winter

Snows of Summer

Book one of Reign of Winter: Every 100 years, the Witch Queen Baba Yaga returns to the nation of Irrisen to place a new daughter on the throne, but this time, something has gone wrong.

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The Story so far…

Our heroes begin in the town of Heldren in southern Taldor, where a mysterious and powerful bout of winter weather has taken over a nearby forest. More disturbingly, the caravan of a Taldan noble was attacked near the woods and the noblewoman was kidnapped. Investigating the strange winter woods, the heroes encountered bandits and evil cold fey, but were able to find and rescue the noblewoman from the bandits where they were camped in an old ranger lodge.

Venturing deeper into the woods they discovered the source of the winter weather, a swirling portal of snow and ice connected to the land of Irrisen. They defeated its guardians, and moss troll named Tebknotten, and his Ice Mephit lieutenant Izoze. Upon vanquishing them however, a strange black rider came through the portal gravely wounded. With his dying breaths he told the heroes that the portal was the work of the Witch Queen Elvanna, who seeks to usurp the throne of her mother Baba Yaga in the icy land of Irrisen to the north.

To make matters worse, he told them that Elvanna plans to use portals such as this to cover all of Golarion in an endless winter. The only way to close the portal is on the other side in the land of Irrisen. The black rider has entrusted the heroes with the task of finding Baba Yaga – so that Elvanna’s plans can be thwarted once and for all.

The Progress of Heroes

Our heroes venture through the portal to the land of Irrisen to find a nation of endless winter in the midst of a military coup by Queen Elvanna in betrayal of her mother. The immediate task before them, they discover, is to invade the nearby source of the winter portal to Taldor, a stronghold known as the Pale Tower.

After gathering supplies and aiding the citizens of the village of Waldsby, the heroes assault the Pale tower, defeating many of it’s denizens and facing off with the witch apprentice Radosek and his Ice Dragon minion. Unfortunately, the sorcerer Thelal passes on to the first world in the battle, due to grave wounds.

Radosek they learn however is only guarding the tower while his master, Nahzena Vasilliovna, has been called back to the capitol of Whitethrone. After they are able to successfully disrupt the magicks causing the winter portal, the heroes realize it is only one of many, and to stop the endless winter they must stop Elvanna by following Baba Yaga’s Trail to rescue her from her daughter’s trap. Their trail leads next to WhiteThrone, the capitol of Irrisen, where Baba Yaga’s hut lies shackled.

The Shackled Hut

The heroes make their way to Whitethrone with the help of their guide, Nadya, avoiding the pursuit of Elvanna’s spies. Once there, they find Nadya’s uncle, a member of an underground resistance movement, to aid them in infiltrating the city. Their method of entry will be by disguising themselves and entering the Howlings district, the area of the city run by Winter Wolves whose gates are the least guarded.

They manage to get into the Howlings without raising suspicion (although with Thorald gaining a date with a curvy human-form Winter Wolf named Greta). Our heroes then make there way through the Howlings while avoiding Elvanna’s mirror men and are able to meet up in the hideout of the underground resistance group known as the Heralds of Summer’s Return.

The Heralds leader, Solveig Ayrdahl, conveys a plan to the heroes to draw Elvanna’s current Winter Guard into conflict with the old Iron Guard still loyal to Baba Yaga, who are now in hiding. If the heroes can assassinate the White Dragon winter guard commander, it will provide the Iron Guard with an opportunity to strike. In the ensuing strife, it should provide the heroes with a chance to gain access to the previously heavily guarded market square of the city, where Baba Yaga’s dancing hut is kept captive.

The heroes venture to the dragon’s clocktower and manage to slay the beast in single combat, then light flares to signal to Iron guard to attack. As war ensues on the streets of Whitethrone, the heroes scramble to the market square, now infested with a magic fey forest that has sprung up around the hut. Making their way through the forest and it’s fey denizens, the heroes are finally able to access the hut and confront Nahzena, the winter witch tasked by Elvanna to guard it. She is able to escape the battle, but the heroes gain access to the hut and are able to use the magical keys granted to them by the black rider to teleport it to it’s next destination.

Maiden Mother Crone

The heroes are magically transported to Iobaria (losing Banker Gale in the process, Thorald d behind to make a new life with his love, Greta). Here they discover new companions in a sylph sorcerer named Mistral and a ancient Barbarian warlord Ratibor, whom Baba Yaga had trapped in the hut. They also find clues left behind by Baba Yaga as to the location of the next keys to follow her trail.

Centaur tribes in the area have been reporting an army of giants gathering at Baba Yaga’s ancient stronghold of Artrosa, a dungeon built out of three mountain-sized statues each dedicated to a different stage of womanhood. The heroes realize that the clues left behind in the hut point them there to recover the next keys.

With the aid of a Centaur guide, and after fighting of demons and giants, the heroes arrive at Artrosa and are able to gain access to the Maiden statue after defeating it’s twisted tree guardian. Within the halls many foul denizens are encountered and eviscerated, including both the dungeon’s native denizens (the coven of the hag Cagriel, a demon-hunting Bebilith, a debased Nymph, and odder things) and it’s invaders (demons and frost giants). In their many battles, both Korvast and the cleric Galinus (who nobody knows how he got there) are tragically slain (only one of them returned as a zombie from Thriller).

Our heroes also confronted Jadrenka, the witch warden of Artrosa, who, still loyal to Baba Yaga, was never exactly an enemy. Instead she was a cryptic and sometimes confusing aid to the heroes, that would help and hinder them in different ways until they gained her trust. They also discovered her part-time lover, a mysterious black man by the name of Bootleg Randall who would only say that he’s “seen things”.

The real threat to Artrosa however was the invading army led by the centaur priest Vsevelod. Devoted to Kostchtchie, an ancient demon-lord enemy of Baba Yaga, he wished to claim the abandoned fortress in service to his lord, and unwittingly guarded a key to the dancing hut. After defeating him and his demonic servants, and regaining the first key from the Pit of Eons, the heroes fully gained Jadrenka’s trust and she bequeathed them the second key. Now they had everything they needed to guide the hut to its next location, hot on Baba Yaga’s trail.

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