Rangers of Shadow Deep: Why I want to know more…
By Dan Adam
‘Even before you set foot in the gatehouse, you are nearly overcome by the stench of death and rotten bodies…’ (Taken from a scenario for Rangers of Shadow Deep)
I want to know more about Ranger of Shadow Deep a lot more, and here’s why. Rangers of Shadow Deep is a fantasy skirmish adventure game by Joseph McCollogh, the author of Frostgrave amongst other things. I love Frostgrave, I love the thought of it, the theme of it, but one of the things I always thought was, is that I never really rooted for the wizard in the fantasy novels I read. I was always a Boromir person over Gandalf, a Tomas person over Pug, I could go on. So I was delighted when Joseph started to release teasers about his new game and the more I have heard the more I was excited about it. I put together a little article.
Firstly what attracts me to the game is its author. As I mentioned previously I really enjoyed Frostgrave and its additions and evolutions. The putting together of a band of likely lads as they head into the unknown in search of treasure, loot, boons, and possibly a story or two to woo a bar wench (if you are the thug) was great fun. I interacted with Frostgrave more in my head than on the tabletop. I made my war band, customised the figures, came up with backstories, gave them all names, and made them into characters and not just painted mins, it was brilliant. I love the depth of Joseph’s games and how they reel me into the world, how they make me think about it even when I am at work in a way that other games do not. I also like the fact that it is unique IP, don’t get me wrong I enjoy seeing novels, films, TV made into games but there is a lot to be said for the creation of a new world to explore borrowing from other fantasy genres for sure but looking from another view point or through a different lens. Because it is not bound, you get a feeling it is actually alive and can be shaped instead of having to be rubber stamped by a corporate big wig.
Another thing that draws me to Rangers of Shadow deep is the theme. Shadow Deep is a dark and perpetually clouded realm expanding into other territory and it isnt clear why. One the borders of the next kingdom in line for ‘the chop’ they arent going to sit idly by and allow this to happen! So it’s up to the Rangers to toddle off into the unknown to ascertain what the ‘bejaysus’ is going on and try to figure out a way to prevent their kingdom being swallowed up by the shadow. What a great setting, I immediately want to know more.
Finding your own minis/character creation:
Something else I also really enjoy about this game is the concept that you can include whichever miniatures you want to to personify your ranger. You don’t have to buy X ranger, it can be whoever, however, and whatever you would like it to be. You want to find a model and convert it to ‘Waylander’ the troubled and torn David Gemmell assassin with hand held crossbow and throwing knives….You got it! You want to use some minis you already have from Kings of War, Age of Sigmar, A Song of Ice & Fire….You bet. You really do have the freedom to explore this area which adds a great level of depth and thought to the game before you even begin. I had this experience for the first time with Frostgrave. Just talking to my friend about how I would construct my warband, where we could get the minis from, where we could get bits, what we would convert. It really adds depth to the game before you even reach the tabletop. I am already thinking of what signifies a ranger in my mind plus a little bit of sprinkled ‘what personal uniqueness can I bring to my ranger’ on top.
Added to this you can spend your base amount of points in character creation to boost baseline stats, buy heroic abilities, hone skills, or recruit chums, then the possibilities are really deep here. Many hours can be spent with a cup of tea and the rule book just thinking over what it is that you would like to do.
The art work:
There is something about brooding black and white pictures that really pulls me into content. Its not overworked, over buffed, or over the top. Its simple and effective. A black and white picture of a spiral staircase leading down, a ranger puffing on a pipe. Simple images that conjure snapshots of the struggles and choices to come possibly. As I have been a member of the Rangers of Shadow Deep Joseph has periodically released these pieces of artwork and they are great.
The narrative of the game: I have saved the area I would like to know most about until the end. The narrative and ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect of the game & the unfolding story aspect. From the very first mission as you discover a eerily quiet village and hear horrible moaning from all around & begin to search it, it encourages you to immerse yourself in the unfolding story. Added to this the character evolution & development, the death, permeant injury, or close call of your precious ranger really mean that I feel I will care about my ‘wee man’ on the table. The idea that I can have close call meaning that all my non standard equipment I have accumulated is lost but my ranger him/herself is fine is both annoying and pleasing. I might rather them lose some toes so that they move slower but keep all their gear!!! It also lends itself to the physical evolution of your character. Say you find a new sword, or you lose an eye, you can remodel your ranger between games to evolve and develop over time.
I am only scratching the surface of the reasons I want to know more about Rangers of Shadow Deep and if any of what I have written resonates with you then please head over to the Rangers of Shadow Deep’s Facebook Group for more information and updates. I cant wait.
Until next time, Rangers of Shadow Deep…..I want to know more about you.