Saturday, 29 September 2018

Introducing Rangers of Shadow Deep


I’m privileged to have been asked by His Royal Awesomeness, Joe McCullough, to playtest a draft copy of his latest set of Frostgrave-based rules, Rangers of Shadow Deep.

Rangers of Shadow Deep is a soon to be released self-published book that takes the core Frostgrave rules, gives them a solo/co-op twist and adds a dash of roleplaying.

The game is set in the kingdom of Alladore. Alladore is being threatened by the Shadow Deep: an ever-expanding realm of darkness and evil that is swallowing up the neighbouring kingdoms.

Art by Barrett Stanley from the book
Now it’s Alladore’s turn, and so the young King has gathered the kingdom’s greatest heroes; the Rangers; to hold back the dread tide.

Your first task is to create your Ranger – the hero of this story. You start off with a number of Build Points (BP), which you can spend on beefing up your stats, gaining heroic abilities, improving skills or recruiting companions to aid you in your quest.

On first read through the above process looks a little daunting, but in reality it was very easy to do! In fact, Joe has written a nice how-to guide on his blog, which you can find here.

The next section of the book goes into the rule mechanics. If you’ve played Frostgrave or Ghost Archipelago you’ll be pretty familiar with these, but, as this is a solo or co-op game, there are some very interesting changes.

The most obvious is the initiative order. I won’t go into too many details, but the phases are different to, say, Frostgrave. Let’s just say you don’t have as much time to react to the wandering monsters any more…

Haters of the critical hit rule can relax, but only just a little bit, and there are other tweaks which make the game challenging and fun. Experience and levelling up is also different, with shades of D&D character progression. You might also be pleased to hear that companions (warband members if you like) also level up too.

Art by Barrett Stanley from the book

The actual games are split into missions, each consisting of two or more scenarios – rather like the games in Forgotten Pacts. However you can only re-jig your companions or heal any poorly ones at the end of each mission, not each scenario in most cases. Other factors such as hunger and disease are also carried across into subsequent inter-mission scenarios.

This is also where the roleplaying feel kicks in, as the games are in effect a linked series of quests, as opposed to treasure hunts of various flavours. Instead of playing morally ambiguous wizards, there’s a nice good vs evil theme where you and your band of companions represent the forces of good.

If I've piqued your interest, please check out the Rangers of Shadow Deep Facebook page. I’ve had great fun solo-playing the game and I think you will too!

Onwards then, to the first game. Shadows are creeping ever closer to Alladore and in the vulnerable border villages people are going missing…