Saturday, 10 November 2018

Rangers of Shadow Deep Mission 2: The Beacon Tower (Scenario 2: Tor Varden, The Lower Level)

Annok growled as the weary warriors approached the imposing structure of Tor Varden.

“Those bastards gnolls got the jump on us and slaughtered the whole garrison but me,” he turned to the ranger Grey Leopard. “Will you help me get my revenge and clear out this nest of evil?”

The ranger peered up at the top of the tower and then down to the stout wooden door on the ground floor.

“Aye, that is my mission, but we cannot scale the walls and battering that door down will bring them running in their droves – we’d be outnumbered within minutes.”

The old soldier grinned and fished the key out of his haversack.

“Oh, no need to knock my lord, we can let ourselves in…”

Suddenly an all-to human scream of pain came from behind the stone walls.

“Someone lives!” Gasped Annok. “But not for long I’ll wager – we must hurry!”

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

Time then to enter the watchtower of Tor Varden! Our heroes would have to be quick, for the longer they tarry, the greater number of gnoll defenders they must face. As well as working against the clock, this scenario is interesting in that you must roll for the type of room you go into each time you go through a doorway. Our heroes turned the key in the lock – what would the first room be?

A storage room. After passing the pick lock test (auto pass due to the key) and stealth test, only four gnolls inhabited this room. Two fighters and two archers, they looked up in surprise as the warband burst in.

Group activating, Grey Leopard ordered his men to attack. Ulf and Annok soon dispatched one fighter, but the others were still standing. One was downed by a shot from Grey Leopard, but Ned the archer missed his quarry. Our heroes had to act fast, lest reinforcements piled into the next room, making it harder for them to advance.

Another gnoll was attacked, but despite being outnumbered it managed to get the better of Ulf before succumbing to the onslaught. All the time the clock was ticking…

Ned the archer was also attacked and was wounded before Ungarra and Blackwing stepped up to defeat the evil gnoll. With the storeroom cleared of gnolls it was time to head through the door into the second room. What would our heroes find?

A torture chamber! Grey Leopard and his two men-at-arms stumbled through the door to discover a gruesome scene. On the far wall, two emaciated prisoners (I used ghoul models) were hanging in chains. In the centre, a surviving soldier was being tormented by a gnoll sergeant while two fighters looked up, gibbering encouragement.

Luckily the element of surprise was still with our heroes. Grey Leopard shot and wounded a gnoll before it attacked him. He easily dispatched the creature as Annok ran to attack and wound the sergeant. In the meantime the unfortunate torture victim was forced to fight another gnoll barehanded.

But where are the rest of the warband? The two rogues were doing what they do best; looting the gnolls’ treasure in the first room; while the others were making their way into the torture chamber as quickly as they could. Luckily Blackwing arrived just in the nick of time to help defeat the sergeant and it’s pal.

As everyone gathered in the now liberated torture chamber, a wounded Ned was left to release the two prisoners, while, grabbing one of the gnoll’s weapons, the rescued soldier joined the warband. Grey Leopard raced to the next door before the occupants could react to the noise of battle, bursting into…

…an armoury! Once again the room was sparsely populated as the surviving gnolls remained oblivious to our heroes’ presence. However the three creatures in the armoury quickly attacked the lone ranger and his plucky avian sidekick Blackwing.

Grey Leopard shot at an advancing gnoll but missed, allowing it to launch it’s attack and bring Blackwing down. The ranger was forced to face the gnolls alone until his remaining band could get into the room.

Luckily he managed just that, buying enough time for the others to pile in and launch a counterattack. Soon the armoury was filled with the sound of battle and the guttural howls of dying gnolls.

The final gnoll was easily dispatched, leaving the lower level of Tor Varden to our heroes. Ulf the swordsman quickly recovered from his injuries, but blackwing suffered a smashed beak.

As the dust settled the room searched for clues. In addition to the gold and jewels looted from the storeroom, our heroes discovered a philtre of fairy dust and a hidden note, scrawled by the captain of the tower before he was dragged off to his doom. In it, he warned of a terrible danger, for leading this band of gnolls was none other than an evil Shadow Knight…

To be continued...

Friday, 2 November 2018

Rangers of Shadow Deep Mission 2: The Beacon Tower (Scenario 1: The Bridge Guards)

Rangers of Shadow Deep is available to download now! Here is the first scenario from the second mission...

Hunter whined, pawing the bare soil as his master, Grey Leopard, reached down to calm the bloodhound. He too was tense, for ‘The Scree’; the drab, rocky landscape around Tor Varden; was far removed from their forest home.

And yet it was to Tor Varden that they must travel, for nothing had been heard from the watchtower for several days. With beacons along the whole border mysteriously snuffing out, it was imperative to discover what had happened.

The ranger led his companions through the winding maze of ravines towards the river he knew they had to cross to reach the tower. It took all of is navigational skills to find his way to the Enthel valley and he was heartened to hear the sound of rushing water up ahead.

But there was another sound. No wonder Hunter was so on edge, for a few yards ahead, as if someone had taught a dog to talk, things were grunting and yapping in a mockery of language. Ned, the ranger’s old archer friend, stiffened.

“By the Gods I thought I’d never hear that accursed tongue again!” he whispered. “Gnolls, and plenty of them!”

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

And so on to the first scenario of the next mission. To reach Tor Varden our hero must cross the Enthel River, but a party of evil gnolls from the Shadow Deep had set up camp at the only crossing point. Luckily, the labyrinth of rocks and boulders that borders the river offered plenty of cover for our heroes to approach unseen.

Patrolling along the river, the gnolls were led by a formidable sergeant, who commanded a number of warriors and archers. Their camp contained a clue marker and a treasure token. The initial objective was to use the cover of the rocky landscape to pick off as many of the gnolls as possible (thus gaining +4 to any attack roll) without alerting their comrades and raising the general alarm (after which the bonus was lost).

The warband cautiously approached the crossing, using the rocky walls to stay out of sight, Initial navigation and stealth tests were passed, allowing me to move our heroes into an advantageous position and have a lone gnoll wander into an ambush. Out of sight, the creature was peppered with arrows while his fellows stood guard unawares.

A random event card brought some reinforcements in the form of a member of the garrison at Tor Varden. Appearing on the other side of the river, this man-at-arms wisely decided to stay out of sight, lest he raise the alarm.

The gnolls continued their patrol, with one of them inadvertently moving into view of our heroes, but out of sight of his comrades (another successful stealth roll). Grey Leopard aimed his bow and fired, cutting it down.

Our heroes slowly moved forward, trying to maintain the element of surprise. However the powerful gnoll sergeant, no doubt wondering where his mates had got to, decided to poke around the rocks (random movement during the creature phase) and stumbled upon our gallant band! Wasting no time, Grey Leopard and his friends launched a group attack.

The alarm was finally raised! The gnolls scrambled for their weapons as behind their camp on the other side of the river, the surviving soldier decided to launch a diversionary attack.

The battle ebbed and flowed along the approaches to the river. The gnoll sergeant was quickly overpowered by Grey Leopard and his friends, but further along the riverbank, his faithful man-at-arms Ulf was having difficulty in defeating a gnoll fighter, which had dodged an arrow from Ned the archer.

Suddenly another survivor from Tor Varden appeared and joined the fray! (A slight mistake here, as I should have discarded the random event card, as it had already spawned one survivor). However he was quickly slain by a gnoll fighter.

Now organised, the gnolls began to close in and the element of surprise had been lost, forfeiting the +4 attack bonus. A gnoll archer was dispatched by the combined efforts of Ungarra the swordswoman, Blackwing and Hunter. However Hunter was taken out in the process.

Another gnoll bowman was lurking nearby – it took aim and poor Blackwing was shot out of the sky in a cloud of feathers. Meanwhile Grey Leopard was directing proceedings and shooting at any gnoll he could see. In doing so he stumbled upon a booby trap hidden among the rocks (a random event card). Luckily he was perceptive enough to spot the danger and avoided setting it off (perception test passed).

Our heroic ranger advanced towards the bridge, shooting one of the gnolls guarding the camp on the other side. Meanwhile the two rogues, Sneaks and Stabbs, had been working their way unnoticed along the right flank, and seizing their moment, attacked a gnoll by the riverbank.

Our heroes converged on the bridge, slaying gnolls left, right and centre. Having seen off several of the creatures, the surviving Tor Varden soldier made his way to their camp, digging through their filthy belongings to locate the clue marker. A clink of metal alerted him to something and, after passing an armament test; he recognised the keys to Tor Varden watchtower!

By now the entire gnoll patrol had been destroyed by our brave warband, allowing Grey Leopard to reach the treasure token. Hidden among the gnolls’ rags was a glittering magical two-handed weapon! Alas no-one in the party was trained to use such a thing, and so it was reluctantly discarded.

Our gallant warband had forced passage over the river and gained the keys to Tor Varden to boot. Alas hunter the hound was badly injured and would have to miss the next game, but taking his place was the grizzled survivor of Tor Varden – and it was this tower that now loomed before them, ominously silent in the swirling mist…