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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.
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