Thursday, 11 October 2018

Rangers of Shadow Deep Mission 1: The Missing (Scenario 2: The Infected Trees)

Pale wisps floated through the group as Grey Leopard led his companions through the trees. The tracks discovered by the adventurers had confirmed Grey Leopard’s worse fears: giant spiders were scuttling out of the darkness to infect the living, turning them into… something unholy…

Following the tracks into the forest brought the heroes to an area of woodland draped with cobwebs. Bloated cocoons littered the forest floor and gnarled and twisted trees, where the foul things made their nests, lurked in the shadows.

Grim faced he turned to his companions.

“Burn them.”

(Note: This is a playtest of the draft document of Rangers of Shadow Deep. Rules and scenarios in the finished publication may differ)

Despite not being well versed in ancient lore, Grey Leopard knew enough to find one nest tree and destroy it immediately (pre-game lore skill roll passed). Aided by Hunter he was also able to locate and kill one giant spider (pre-game tracking skill roll passed) and also discover a patch of Farlight Leaf growing nearby (pre-game survival skill roll passed). This gave him an extra +1 to his shooting stat, at the expense of other abilities.

As the heroes moved cautiously through the woods, they came upon an evil spider (well, ladybird – I didn’t have enough spiders!) As they battled this creature, Grey Leopard stumbled upon a nest tree (random event card that happened to spawn one right next to him). Fumbling for his tinder box he immediately set it alight.

Spiders came skittering through the undergrowth at alarming speed, but the adventurers managed to fight them off. In the meantime the two rogues managed to creep along the spider-free left flank and towards the nest trees at the other side of the table.

Pressing forward, Ungarra slew another spider and investigated a cocoon, finding it to contain the corpse of some poor individual. Grey Leopard did his best to cover his companions, but, as with the first scenario, he was missing every shot, despite the Farlight Leaf.

Ulf waded into the undergrowth to slay another spider, as more were emerging from the nest trees. Luckily, on the flank, Stabbs the rogue had reached one unmolested and quickly set fire to it. The others poked their swords through more cocoons, only to find more dead bodies.

However Ungarra noticed something struggling among the cobwebs – a survivor! The swordswoman quickly cut the villager free and sent the grateful girl on her way. Meanwhile the rogues continued to set the nest trees alight while the others chopped up cocoons.

One cocoon however yielded a zombie! Ned the archer fired, but missed. Behind him, Grey Leopard drew his bow and concentrated. With Farlight Leaf coursing through is veins he fired… and hit! Finally a kill for the ranger!

Ulf the swordsman was not so lucky: sluggish from a poisoned spider bite, he was too slow to react as a spider leapt from the undergrowth and tore a chunk out of his neck. A critical hit, which is not as critical as in Frostgrave, but still critical enough to down him!

Hunter and Ungarra quickly ganged up on this final spider and tore it into a foul-smelling mess, finally clearing the area of the evil stain of infection.

Another fast, furious and fun game, made a little easier by the initial run of successful skill rolls and the lucky placing of a nest tree next to the Ranger.

Over the two scenarios Grey Leopard earned enough experience to advance to level 2, gaining an extra ability (‘Focus’) and an improvement to one of his skills. He was also the proud owner of a Fishglass.

That concluded the first mission. It was obvious that the unpleasant things sneaking out of the Shadow Deep’s miasma were merely the vanguard of a wider invasion. Could the line be held, or would the kingdom fall to the greater evils about to be unleashed?

Monday, 8 October 2018

Enter the Dragon

Since time immemorial Atrrakza the Blackhorn had slumbered beneath the magical city, dreaming great saurian dreams atop the vast pile of treasure it had accumulated over the aeons.

Once every few centuries something would awaken the great beast: a shift in the magical field, the sudden craving for more glittering things, the intense cold and frost that had as of late settled on his mighty scales… or simply just hunger for flesh…

Who knows what had roused Atrrakza the Blackhorn this time. Perhaps it was the prattling of the small ape-like creatures that scrabbled around the tunnels near it’s cavernous chamber with their torches and feeble spells. Maybe it was their squabbling over trinkets that were rightfully the property of the dragon.

Either way, as it’s eyelids opened to reveal jet-black eyes that gazed balefully into the darkness and it’s nostrils flared with sulphurous clouds, Atrrakza the Blackhorn stirred…

Wargamers can be a very nice bunch of people. Last December I posted a little update, talking about the latest issue of Spellcaster magazine, which features rules for dragons. I also uploaded a photo of my kids’ toy dragon, which I intended to use until I got around to buying a proper model.

Months later and I received a very nice email from my chum Phil Curran, who told me he had a spare one, and would I like it? I of course said yes, and within days I was the proud owner of this lovely beast from Mantic’s Kings of War range.

It’s a massive model – a really nice chunk of plastic which painted up a treat (despite my heavy-handed drybrushing on some areas that I managed to avoid photographing). The red colour scheme I wanted has come out lighter and more orangery than I anticipated, so I decided to go for black horns, claws and teeth to add some contrast.

All-in-all though I’m very pleased with how the dragon came out, so thanks very much Phil for your generosity – you’re a true gent!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Rangers of Shadow Deep Mission 1: The Missing (Scenario 1: The Deserted Village)

The ruined village lay below them, smoke rising lazily from still smouldering fires. Grey Leopard crouched at the edge of the rise that overlooked the settlement and looked down. Even from his vantage point it was difficult to work out what had transpired here, or why his fellow ranger Aventine had not returned from his scouting mission, but his sharp senses told him that there were clues to be found. Slowly he beckoned his companions and together they made their way forward…

(Note: This is a playtest of the draft document of Rangers of Shadow Deep. Rules and scenarios in the finished publication may differ)

Time then to take the mantle of Ranger. I decided to create a ‘rangery’ Ranger – a woodsman, survivalist and tracker – called Grey Leopard. After improving my ‘move’ and ‘shoot’ stats, my BPs were spent of abilities like ‘steady aim’ and ‘evade’ and skills such as ‘navigation’, ‘stealth’, ‘survival’ and a handful of others that I thought represented my idea of the Ranger.

This left enough BP to recruit seven companions: bloodhound, raptor, two rogues, two swordsmen and an archer. I kitted out Grey Leopard with a bow, quiver, sword, light armour and a dagger.

The heroic adventurers warily fanned out from the centre of the village, looking for any clues that might provide information. Grey Leopard used his skills to pass a perception test, allowing me to move one of the clue markers to a more convenient location.

Suddenly a low moaning sound alerted the heroes to the presence of zombies! Grey Leopard fired at one, but missed. His companion Ned the archer tutted, before calmly drawing his own bow and dropping the creature.

Other creatures scuttled towards the heroes – giant rats, squealing with malicious glee. Hunter the bloodhound and Ulf the swordsman quickly dispatched one of the rodents, but another one was lurking in the nearby undergrowth.

Catching it’s scent, Hunter dived into the bushes, but the rat’s sharp jaws overpowered the hound. Luckily this rat was in turn dispatched by Blackwing the raptor – blood for the bloodhound!

More zombies were shambling into view. One was shot at close range by Ned, while Ungarra the swordswoman slew another. Meanwhile Sneaks the rogue used her lock picking skills to gain entry to one of the ruins, within which was a clue.

Or was it? No – it was a survivor! After the injured villager gained consciousness he joined the band, swearing revenge upon whatever evil had destroyed his home.

Ungarra stumbled upon another clue: another Human, but dead this time. A quick search of the body and after passing an armoury skills test, she recognised the corpse’s weapon as the magic sword of the Ranger Aventine. So he had also been slain by the evil…

More rats could be heard scurrying through the undergrowth as Sneaks and her injured friend investigated another clue. Another corpse, but this time reanimated! Outnumbered, the creature was quickly slain by the pair.

Rats and zombies were now converging on the adventurers, bringing a pallid stink of fetid air in their wake. A random event card heralded disease, meaning that any hero reduced to zero health would have to pass a health test to stave off the pestilence, or begin the next scenario with -3 health.

Stabbs the rogue uncovered another clue, his keen senses telling him that it was treasure even before he fished it out of the rubble. Meanwhile the adventurers converged on another ruined hut. Blackwing flew in to investigate, but was pounced on by a rat!

Ulf investigated a further clue, finding a pouch of rare anthalas herbs, while at the hut, Sneaks picked the lock and stepped back to allow access to Ungarra. She swept in and killed the giant rat, leaving the next clue free to be investigated.

It turned out to be a set of strange tracks. Luckily Ungarra passed the tracking skill roll and ascertained that something very unpleasant had skittered into the village, turning the inhabitants into zombies. The tracks of these creatures led into the forests…

A great game to start off with. All the clues were uncovered and much experience earned, but the heroes didn’t get it their own way, with Hunter the bloodhound gaining a permanent injury, despite having a +1 to his survival roll thanks to the herbs.

Blackwing survived her injuries, but succumbed to disease after failing her health test. Being at -2 health meant that she would miss the next scenario. The treasure turned out to be a Fishglass, which would come in handy if any swimming was required, while Ungarra claimed temporary ownership of Aventine’s magic sword (which would have to be returned to the King’s armoury at the end of the mission).

A fantastic game full of thrills and spills - solo gaming has never been such fun! Onwards then, to the deep dark woods…