Reign of Winter
Queen of Witches
The Queen of Witches, Baba Yaga (pronounced BAH-ba YAH-guh)invaded Golarion from another world in 3313 AR, making war on the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. Within 23 days the Winter War was over and she had established her realm of Irrisen.
The winter of 3312 AR was terribly bitter, even by the incredibly harsh standards of northern Avistan: warriors who left their swords outside overnight would find that the cold had shattered them by the next morning. As if the cold wasn’t strange enough, the northern lights were so bright and sustained that they were mistaken for daylight. These events would later be seen as omens of the terror that was to come.
The following year the witch-queen Baba Yaga invaded the Linnorm Kingdom of Raemerrund and the Djurstor Confederacy from over the Winterwall Glacier, bringing with her an army of ice trolls, cold fey, frost giant, white dragons, and other evil creatures. King Jarguut and the thanes of the Confederacy were too divided and weakened to offer any serious resistance, and the Winter War ended in the defeat of the Ulfen forces in only 23 days.
Once the Ulfen armies had been defeated, Baba Yaga installed her eldest daughter Jadwiga as queen of the new nation of Irrisen, and divided it into five provinces: Bleakmarch, Feyfrost, Hoarwood, Thronehold, and Wintercrux. After this was accomplished, however, the Witch Queen seemed to lose interest in Irrisen, and departed Golarion abruptly.
After founding Irrisen, Baba Yaga was not heard from for nearly a century. In 3412 AR, the Three Riders of Baba Yaga appeared in Irrisen. These strange, fey horsemen road about the countryside, punishing those who had been unfaithful to the Witch Queen, and (rarely) rewarding those who had stayed true to her, but offered little justification for any of their actions. The following year, Baba Yaga herself returned to Golarion and removed the Queen from the throne, placing her younger daughter Morgannan in charge. She left again shortly thereafter, taking along her eldest daughter Jadwiga along with the first generation of her descendants. This process was to reoccur every 100 years like clockwork, and continues to this day.
Not every daughter of Baba Yaga has quietly acquiesced to her mother’s demand to give up the throne of Irrisen, and a few have even openly rebelled against the Witch Queen. Although the first three queens of Irrisen (Jadwiga, Morgannan, and Urvalane) are said to have abdicated with little fighting, Urvalane’s successor, Pjallarane, did not go quietly. She and her children (the Jadwiga Pjallarane) launched an open rebellion against their progenitor in 3713 AR, but were ruthlessly put down by Baba Yaga in a single day in a conflict known as the 24-Hour War. A century later, Queen Aelena abdicated without the slightest hesitation, most-likely remembering her sister’s futile struggle against their mother.
These relatively quiet successions continued through the reigns of Queens Harcatha, Sascha, and Karina, but came to an end with the Witchwar of 4213 AR. During this conflict, Queen Tashanna used the power of the Torc of Kostchtchie to summon the demon lord Kostchtchie and force him to assist her in fending off the Witch Queen. Despite this assistance, Tashanna and her followers were quickly defeated by Baba Yaga. Tashanna and the first generation of her offspring were dragged off to a place beyond Golarion, while her former loyalists were executed, and their bodies hidden in the necropolis known as the Veil of Frozen Tears.
After this unpleasantness, the next queen of Irrisen, Velikas renounced her throne quietly in 4413 AR, but trouble was once again stirred up by her successor, Queen Kseniya. When Baba Yaga came in 4413 AR, Kseniya attempted to take her life. Many of her children tried to do the same, but were ultimately prevented by the Witch Queen, who took them all with her and installed Betyrina as the new monarch of Irrisen.
Since Velikas’ futile gesture of resistance, the Queens of Irrisen have once again given up their thrones quietly. It remains to be seen which of her sisters’ footsteps the current Queen Elvanna will follow in when Baba Yaga returns this year.
Baba Yaga appears as an ancient human crone, often seen carrying her witch’s broom and a large basked filled with sundry items on her back.
Even though Baba Yaga takes the first generation of her daughter’s offspring with her when she returns to Golarion every century (see History above), the second generation and beyond remain on this world and are known as the Jadwiga. These men and women appear human in all respects and make up the ruling class of that northern land.
Baba Yaga earned the eternal hatred of Kostchtchie after perverting his wish for immortality by forcing him to become a demon lord.
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga is a major artifact of Baba Yaga’s, granting her immense ability to travel within the Material Plane and into the Great Beyond.