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Rangers of Shadow Deep is somewhere between a skirmish game and an RPG. You play a ranger, an elite soldier tasked with saving your kingdom from the advancing forces of the Shadow Deep, that has already consumed the neighbouring lands. Its great fun, can be played solo or co-operatively, and has a lot of fans on Facebook and this forum.
The game is miniatures agnostic and lots of the fun arises from getting a new supplement (from Drivethrurpg) and seeing what terrain and miniatures need to be sourced and painted up for the next mission. That can give the impression however that you need to source and paint 100 random single use minis, and make a bunch of terrain, to enjoy the game. That isn't the case.
There are some very nice official metal miniatures that are produced by Northstar but it is also entirely possible/economical to use Reaper Bones for the opponents you encounter in particular.
This is an entirely personal, non-commercial post. There shouldn't be any spoilers. Because I love the game (and suppose I like Reaper miniatures…) I wanted to set out how you could source the minis you need from this company, or show people how they might have a lot of the minis already. RPG players, and people who own the big dungeon crawler KS games may also already have a lot of suitable minis.
Most of the missions are played on a 2.5 foot square table. If you are so minded, you could get or use a 3x3 foot mat or cloth and have room for milk. You could use a dry erase RPG mat very effectively. The missions are pretty much evenly split between interior/dungeon locations and wooded/outdoor locations.
Your ranger and companions
You play as a ranger. The illustrations to the book show a lot of traditional, middle earth/early medieval cloaked warriors. The game is very open though and lets you create a character that could be an all rounder, a caster, an archer, fighter etc etc. There are tons of mysterious cloaked types in Reaper Bones (search for “Bones Cloak”) or you could go for metal figures for your characters. People are playing this with samurai, pirates, steampunk, evil, all sorts of characters as their ranger.
You also get up to 7 companions. The types available will be familiar to players of Frostgrave, and include various types of soldier, casters, rogues, hawks and hounds. Again, there are a ton of options in Bones, and probably c. 100,000 options in lead and plastic from Reaper and other manufacturers.
The very first mission involves investigating an abandoned village. The main feature of the terrain requires you to represent 5 small houses on the table. You don’t have to walk around the interiors of the houses in the missions. If it would be a bit of a tar pit/expensive to go out and buy a bunch of mdf or plastic houses, a cheap option could be to use decoupage house-shaped boxes, and decorate these with filler/coffee stirrers/cardboard tiles, or represent the buildings in 2d.
The opponents in the mission are rats, and zombies. You probably won’t need more than 4 of each on the board at any one time. SKU 77016 “Rats” or 77198 “Barrow Rats” would be useful. SKU 77342 is a set of 5 zombies, and SKU 77053 and 77014 are sets of 3 zombies. Zombies turn up in future missions a lot more than rats. Bones 5 includes some nice new zombies as part of the Core Set and as an add on. The Dungeon Dwellers expansion will include 4 giant rats.
In the second mission you encounter giant spiders, and investigate some of their cocoons /webs and some creepy trees. Giant spiders come up in future in quite a few of the missions. SKU 02784 is metal, but has a spider and two victims, if you want to show the victims. Or you could wrap a packing peanut in cotton wool.
I used tree armatures for the creepy trees. If you don't have any model trees/bushes and you want to show them in 3d they get used in a lot of future missions.
For spiders, SKU 77126 (“Vermin: Spiders”) looks perfect and you can probably get away with having 6 minis. You could mix it up with SKU 77128 (Vermin: Spider Swarm) and SKU 77025 which is a bigger, single giant spider. Bones 5 includes an add on with 4 giant spiders, a couple of victims, a halfling paladin, and some terrain.
Third mission (3 scenarios)
In the third mission you start to encounter gnolls. These are one of the main opponents you come across in the game. I used orcs and half orcs a lot of the time, or the plastic gnolls from Frostgrave. Future missions involve you facing human cultists/evil soldiers and gnolls so you may want two distinctive types of opponent.
The types of gnolls you need to depict are archers, fighters, sergeants (bigger and tougher) and shamans. You only ever encounter a single shaman in each mission. It is sensible to have 4 archers, and 4 -6 fighters, with two of those being bigger/tougher looking and identifiable as sergeants.
If you were going for gnolls and using Bones, there are 6 different minis to look at (SKU 77388, 77234, 77235, 77236, 77104, and 77012), and you would only need multiples of the archer (77104 Blacktongue Gnoll Archer).
You need to show a bridge and a stream for the first part of this mission. The gnolls have set up camp to guard it. Then you move into the interior of a captured watch tower. It could be handy to have some tents, shelters, and a camp fire as these show up in other missions.
It is worth thinking about how you would depict rooms/dungeon walls as a lot of the missions involve setting out the table in a number of large rooms. I used 1cm high strips of xps foam, detailed with a foam roller, and stuck to tongue depressors. Dungeon scatter (crates, wreckage, skulls etc) could be a good investment as well.
Other opponents you may need to depict in this third mission are a vulture (see SKU 77485), 1 or 2 civilians /prisoners, a flesh golem (perhaps 77512 or 77169).
You will definitely encounter a “Shadow Knight”. I used a metal mini (Krass Omenthrall SKU 03792). He is turning up in the Core Set in Bones 5. There are a huge number of evil looking knights in Bones though. Searching for “Bones Evil” brings these up.
In the scenarios comprising the 4th mission you start to encounter giant flies. A lot of people use joke shop flies, there is a model from Northstar, but I used the Bones “Fly Demon” (SKU 77259). If you don’t need an army of lead or plastic flies in your life you can get away with having 4 models, as they die quickly in the game.
The final scenario in this mission is “The Last Stand”. This is great fun and involves you defending a ruined farmhouse from randomly generated opponents. You need to show 4 civilians and 3 allied soldiers. There are a number of suitable peasant NPCs and searching for “Bones Townsfolk” would bring a bunch of these up.
Your opponents in this mission are randomly generated and could include gnolls, giant spiders, and giant flies. You may also have to deal with Trolls and with a burrowing worm. There are 10 different trolls in the Bones range, and 10 different ogres. Future missions have you facing off against skeletal/zombie ogres so you might want one model to represent both types of opponent. Trolls and ogres don’t show up in the same missions.
I used SKU 77541 (“Carrion Worm”) for the burrowing worm but other useful models would be SKU 77006 or 44031 (giant leeches). The new Bones core set includes a suitable looking creepy worm, and a number of armoured trolls.
In the final mission you are able to have minis in the cottage and on the roof. I represented minis on the roof by putting these on up turned transparent plastic cups.
If time allows I might try and add to this post to go through future missions. I’ve really enjoyed playing through the game and (partly due to lockdown) only have 2 more ‘books’ to go.
By Lidless Eye
I've been trying to work on my encounters for Rangers of Shadow Deep. Here's a bunch of randomness from that work!
We have: a Warhammer Quest rat, a Frostgrave Wizards II Rat Familiar, a Reaper Bones Rat Swarm, a Reaper Bones Rat Ogre, a Spawn Rat from Dark Platypus Studios, a Warhammer Skaven Giant Rat, and a Rat Mama 3D print from Crippled God Foundry.
A Bat Swarm from Reaper Bones.
An Infestation of Spiders:
A Reaper Bones Cavern Spider, a Reaper Bones Spider Swarm, a man-faced spider that may be from Foundry, and a classic Warhammer Quest giant spider.
Flies that are Giant:
One of the more unusual encounters in Rangers of Shadow Deep. I picked these up from the 40k Kill Team: Rogue Trader boxed set before there were official models.
The latest Rangers of Shadow Deep book is set in a desert so have gone through the lead pile to see what Eastern and Arabic flavoured minis I have. I also have some sand banks and desert terrain which am adding to.
Really enjoyed painting this mini which is by Diehard miniatures (sculptor Tim Prow). Went for a pale pallette, over an Army Painter cream undercoat and an all over umber ink wash. Am probably not adding tufts to these bases (although do that for western minis).
I created a single scenario mission for low level rangers based on the "The Dungeon" books from Loke Battlemats. Since here are some rosd players and backers of that kickstarter I thought I'd share it. No clue how large the overlap is. Anyhow, C&C welcome, reports of how it went also.
I played it with two players (GF and I). We had a close, but successful, mission with level 0 and level 1 rangers. I would say tough adventure, and mid level ranger around level 5 might also be fine.
My son and I have been on a journey over the last nine months to play a campaign of Gorkamorka. Why so long you ask? Well, we decided that we really wanted to do it right and build terrain and mobs and vehicles from scratch. Sure we could have just played with some of the terrain I already had and lord knows I have enough orks to play a game, or thirty, of gomo but we wanted something to do together.
We started by building a massive amount of terrain, WAY more than we could ever use on even four tables of gomo but we wanted variety and versatility. That thread can be found here, very pic heavy.
After that was finished we started building mobs and playing games to get the rules down before we really start our campaign with our gaming group. I have been starting project logs for a few of them, here are the Diggas where I built their trukk and the mob itself. I have started painting them here but had to briefly put them on hold to build another mob for a test game coming up soon. That trukk and mob build can be found here, they are the Goffs and they are proud of it.
This is probably our twelfth game or so, we are really starting to get the rules down and games are much quicker than our first couple. It had been a solid twelve or more years since I had played a game but once we started most of the rules came right back. This game took us less than an hour total, that was from table set up to post game book keeping. Granted this was a very quick and non bloody game so that helped quite a bit.
Alright, here we go...3...2...1....
The dessert spread out far and wide before Gorbad and crew as they hurtled across the sand in their brand new trukk, it had only been crashed once before the meks sold it to him for only twenty teef. Pretty good deal since the mek had originally said he couldn't sell it for less than twenty-two. Gorbad smiled to himself, he had some hagglin' skills to rival a Deathskull, that was for sure. Sweat rolled into his eyes causing him to snap back to the moment as he wiped the sting from his eyes and the sand from his face. Overhead the sun beat down as relentlessly as ever, it was early day but the temp was already climbing to almost unbearable even for an ork such as himself. There was never a moment of respite on this world he thought. All the hardship,fighting and scraping was good for his lads though, gave them something to do and kept the yoofs out of trouble.
Gorbad was snapped back to reality again as Grimgut, the new spanner and driver of the new trukk, was screaming something that he couldn't hear over the roar of the centrally mounted engine. Grimgut was now frantically pointing in the direction they were headed.
Before Gorbad could turn to see what was out there Snazbad, the new yoof of the mob, was frantically tugging on his arm.
"Wat!?!" bellowed Gorbad at the light green yoof.
"Boss, I seez somethin'!", Snazbad was also pointing in the direction they were headed.
Sneering at the yoof but holding off from smackin' him across the back of his skull for fear of finding a soft spot Gorbad was finally able to turn his attention to the desert in front of them.
A large ramp down into the skid could be seen and right at the bottom of it, some no good stinkin' Freebootas!
A smile crept onto Gorbad's face, "Hit the Red Button! he screamed at Grimgut.
The trukk bounced across the rough desert ground and all the boyz roared in their excitement.
(Here are a couple shots of the terrain we are playing over before anything was deployed.)
(Here are the forces deployed.)
Those git Freebootas was caught out in da desert diggin' scrap like a bunch a grots thought Gorbad, his smile gettin' bigger, and more full of sand by the second.
The thunderous roar of his new trukk and boyz musta scared them no good Freebootas, before Gorbad and 'is boyz could get to 'em and give 'em a good whoopin' they was in they trukk and tryin' ta get away. Their good for nothin' bad mek was behind the controls of the vehicle and hittin' the Big Red Button before he even had the gas engine started! Their vehicle lurched ahead straight toward The Last Rock forcing their mek to slam on the breaks.
Gorbad was yellin' for Grimgut to t-bone them but somehow over the roar of the engine his message was lost and the new spanner skid stopped the trukk sideways, headed straight for the side of the cliff.
Both mobs crammed to the sides of their trukks facing the other mob and let loose with every ranged weapon they could bring to bare.
The bad mek, still without his gas engine started, was smooshing the Big Red Button nonstop! In an amazing turn of luck all this accomplished was that the low ridin' git wagon spun 'round and faced almost straight at the center of a large dune of soft sand.
Gorbad saw that this was the moment he needed and once again he yelled for Grimgut to ram the stinkin' Freebootas while they were in a bad position.
The spanner must have heard this time as he skillfully turned the new trukk 'round the right way and Gorbad could hear the thrusters begin to whine up, the vehicle lurched forward and then stopped.
Gorbad, once again, whirled to see what the new spanner was doin' only to see him pulling out a hammer and beatin' on the Red Button....he must not be strong enough to push it he thought. He ducked just in time as he saw Zogstruk, the new gunner of the new trukk, fire the harpoon gun at the enemy. He wrenched his head around just in time to see the massive harpoon glance off the engine and stick in the sand.
Then the roar of weapon fire was deafening as once more both mobs opened fire with everything they could.
Gorbad's heart jumped in his chest as he saw the Kaptin' fall face first from their low ridin' trukk.
His joy didn't last any longer than a few quick heartbeats as the tough old git crawled back into da trukk, the bad mek started his gas engine and tore off across the desert, followed by blasts from their thrusters taking them almost out of range to even think about chasing after them.
Gorbad screamed at Grimgut to give her everything she had and catch up to them before they were too far away.
The spanner revved the gas engine, threw it into gear, spun the vehicle around to give chase and mashed the Red Button only to loose control and skid to a stop facing the cliff and a tank trap.
Gorbad watched as the no good Freebootin' gits sped off out of sight with a trukk full of scrap....
Needless to say, I(Gorbad and the goffs) did not win this one. My son did exactly what he had to do to win, get off the table with the most scrap, and win he did. It was a fun, funny, orky game, full of awesomely horrible dice rolls for both of us. However, in a game like this sometimes that will actually make for a much more entertaining game.
Gorbad, his back against the side of the armored crew compartment, slid down until his bottom was on the bed of his new trukk. He began fumblin' through his cigar pouch searching for the only thing that may help him feel a little better about his life choices at the moment. At last he found it, the last stump of his last cigar. He brought it to his mouth and began searchin' for his lighter in his chest pocket. He found it, quickly pulled it out, struck it and nothing happened. Gorbad looked at the heavy, metal lighter and saw that it had caught a bullet, at least he could rely on someone in his mob he thought before he roared and threw it at Snazbad, hitting him behind his right ear. The yoof crumpled like a grot under a slavers whip.
Gorbad and the other boyz roared in laughter.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did...
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