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Baba Yaga

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Baba Yaga

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(Person)
Aliases Yanca
Titles Queen of Witches
Witch Queen
Great Crone
Old Crone
Old Knobby Legs
Dear Grandmother
Alignment Neutral evil
Race/Species Human (Sarmatian)
Class Witch 20 / Archmage 10
Gender Female
Homeland Russia (Earth)
The Thrice-Tenth Kingdom (First World)
Born 75 BCE (2720 AR)
Images of Baba Yaga

Source: The Witch Queen's Revenge, pg(s). 74-75

The Queen of Witches, Baba Yaga (pronounced BAH-ba YAH-guh)[1] 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 Baba Yaga established her realm of Irrisen.[2]

Origin

Birth and rise to power

Baba Yaga was born over two thousand years ago on a distant planet known as Earth, in an area of steppe that would one day be part of the nation of Russia. She was originally named Yanca, and belonged to a tribal people known as the Sarmatians. One day, during a particularly long and bitter winter, Yanca left her camp to fetch water and stumbled up a deep fissure in the earth warmed by a heated spring, which she entered to obtain both the water and shelter from the wind and cold. In the sheltered grotto she found at the fissure's bottom, she encountered an ancient norn known as Vigliv, who was struck by the unusual length and luster of the thread of Yanca's fate and decided to tutor her in magic.[3]

Yanca was enraptured by the norn's knowledge, and eagerly listened to the lessons Vigliv imparted; when she finally remembered the task that had first guided her to the spring and climbed back out with her water, she found that two years had passed and that her tribe had long since given her up for dead and moved on. Having no other choice, Yanca returned to Vigliv to continue her training as a witch.[3]

After finishing Vigliv's tutelage many years later, Yanca left the spring and took to wandering across the plains. She pondered a great deal about the nature of power as she did so; as her fame grew, more and more people began to come to her to seek favors and aid. Yanca eventually grew disgusted with the nature of humanity, due both to their constant supplications and the depths they were willing to go to obtain fame and power. It was during this time that she acquired her present name, as the Rus people she traveled among gave her the appellative "Baba"—"Grandmother"—due to her great age, and came to mispronounce "Yanca" as "Yaga".[3]

At first, Baba Yaga made her base within a large burial mound known as a kurgan, one of many that had been built by a long-vanished culture that lived on the steppes before even Baba Yaga's birth people did. Eventually, desiring a more mobile means of travel, she created her legendary Dancing Hut as a new home, pulling the kurgan within one of the many demiplanes contained within the hut to serve as a private sanctum where she would work her most powerful magic.[4]

The Thrice-Tenth Kingdom

As she grew in age and power, Baba Yaga began to explore both the Material Plane and the Great Beyond. Desiring a realm that she could shape to please herself, she eventually entered the First World and through magic and willpower claimed a distant section of it for herself. She shaped it to resemble the steppes and forests of her youth on the Russian plains, and populated with a great variety of creatures and minions drawn from across the universefey and warring ogres, talking birds, shadowy predators, wisdom-seeking deer and elk, and stranger creatures all came to populate the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom. Baba Yaga did not find much pleasure here, however, as the natives of her new realm treated her with respect and opulence she did not want; when she visits her realm, it is rare for her to leave her Dancing Hut.[5]

First appearance on Golarion

The triple goddess monument at Artrosa.

Baba Yaga's first appearance on Golarion was centuries before her invasion of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. She and her Dancing Hut appeared in the dense forests of Iobaria in western Casmaron and maintained a low profile, conversing only with fey and occasionally centaurs. When rumours of a powerful arcanist spread in those early days, however, an Iobarian warlord named Kostchtchie visited Baba Yaga full of demands to be made immortal. As punishment for his rude affront, Baba Yaga granted him immortality, but twisted his form into that of a deformed giant, and hid a portion of his soul in a powerful artefact called the Torc of Kostchtchie. After Kostchtchie's defeat and humiliation, the warlord fled Iobaria to the Abyss, where he eventually became a powerful demon lord, but never forgot his ire toward Baba Yaga.[5]

Baba Yaga then turned her attention to the construction of Artrosa in the Deeprun Crevasse, a huge monument representing a triple aspect of Baba Yaga's personality. Once completed, Baba Yaga left Golarion for a long while, with but a few revisits to quickly check her minions, only returning more permanently in 3313 AR.[5]

Invasion of Golarion

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 were not 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.[6]

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 giants, 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.[6]

Founding of Irrisen

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 abruptly departed Golarion.[6]

Return of the Witch Queen

Baba Yaga was not heard from for nearly a century after the founding of Irrisen. In 3412 AR, the Three Riders of Baba Yaga appeared. 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 her daughter, Queen Jadwiga, from the throne, placing her younger daughter Morgannan in charge. She left again shortly thereafter, taking Jadwiga with her along with the first generation of Jadwiga's offspring. This process was to reoccur every 100 years like clockwork, and continues to this day.[6]

Rebellions against Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga has quelled many a rebellion against her rule.

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.[6][7]

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 forced 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.[7]

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.[8]

Since Kseniya's futile gesture of resistance, the Queens of Irrisen have once again given up their thrones quietly. It remains to be seen in which of her sisters' footsteps the current Queen Elvanna will follow when Baba Yaga returns.[8]

Appearance

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.[8]

Jadwiga

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.[9]

Relationships

Baba Yaga earned the eternal hatred of Kostchtchie after perverting his wish for immortality by forcing him to become a demon lord.[10]

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 throughout the Great Beyond.[11]

References

Paizo published a major article, including a stat block, of Baba Yaga in The Witch Queen's Revenge.