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…