Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rangers of Shadow Deep First Campaign Conclusion

This is a further report on my solo Rangers of Shadow Deep campaign.  With this set of games, I've played through the basic scenarios in the rule book.  So without further ado, here's the conclusion of the first set of scenarios:

Our heroes, Bogdan the Barbarian, Kyra the Red, Hanali the Wood Elf, and their companion/charge, Sir Osmer, have descended into the crevice leading down into the Shadow Deep which has overcome the neighboring Kingdom of Lorenthia.

  They spot several large insects emerging holes in rock walls. (The rule book calls for giant flies.  Since I didn't have any available, the menacing creatures became Giant Hopping Ants but using Giant Fly stats from the book.)
 The first few the party encountered were easily dispatched.
During the descent, Bogdan and Hanali discover the corpse of a Lorenthian soldier.  On it they discover some herbs and poignant love letter from some unknown sweet heart.
As they go further into the fuming darkeness, Hanali hits upon the idea of throwing a torch down the Hopping Ants' nests.  This seems to deter the creatures.
The ease with which they dispatched the Ants lulled the party into a false sense of security and they split up. Bogdan found himself surrounded by several of the creatures.  With great ill-fortune, one of the barbarian suffered a terrible strike (12 points damage!) from one of the Ants' pincers.
The rest of the party rushed to his aid and soon killed his tormentors. They also discovered a magic brooch, lost no doubt by some now-dead Lorenthian.
More wary of the Ants, the party stayed together and fought their way to base of cliff, placing torches in each nest they came to, slowing for a while the teeming horde of Ants.

At the foot of the cliff, they came to a flooded plane, deep with noxious waters.  Several approaching undead showed that the water depth lessened further on.
Bogdan and Kyra advanced to engage the undead.  Sir Osmer, not the best of swimmers, had to be rescued from drowning by Hanali.  However, the time spent in the foul water played havoc on her Elven constitution. (She failed her role to prevent getting Diseased from the water.  As a result, she was at a disadvantage through this scenario and the next.)
As the rest of the party finished off the undead, Sir Osmer found another corpse, bearing an ornate silver signet ring.  They soon after discovered strange flowers growing from the shallows.
They had been followed.  Several of the bolder Hopping Ants come after them.
More undead added to their troubles.
By keeping close together, the heroes managed to batter their way through.
And managed to extricate themselves from the flooded landscape.  Hanali took a parting shot at an oncoming undead, downing the unnatural creature.
As what dimmed light faded into night's darkness, the party found a ruin in which a handful of Lorenthian suvivors had gathered to make a stand against the strange creatures that had overrun their lands.  They were led by a knight, Sir Rombys, who had two archers with him.  Four armed peasants and several noncombatants represented perhaps the last survivors of the recently proud Kingdom of Lorenthia.
The survivors rejoiced that help had arrived and that the entire world had not yet been engulfed by the Darkness.  The heroes promised to aid them in escaping to Alladore.  However, with night falling, it was decided to stay in the ruin rather than attempt to travel the dangerous countryside by night.  Soon, however, horrific sounds indicated that they had been discovered and every sort of foul creature in the area was converging on their refuge.
Suddenly, the floor of one the rooms split asunder and huge Borrowing Worm emerged.
Before the creature could extend to its full length, Bogdan and Sir Rombys struck at the creature.  The Barbarian landed a powerful blow on the worm, ensuring its quick demise.
At the same time, the roar of a fearsome Troll could be heard coming from the yard at the back of the old farmhouse.
Hanali, using Farlight Leaf to steady her hand weakened by illness, led the archers in a volley that struck down the Troll.
This was not too soon as party of Gnolls streamed out of the nearby ruined woods and flung themselves ferociously against the party's defenses.
One even attempted to climb through the roof but was killed by trap the heroes in their forsight had placed there.
The relative quiet of the other room was shattered when a giant spider slipped through a hole in the wall.  Fortunately, Sir Osmer was able to lend his had to the two sturdy farmers defending the room.
As the party was finishing off the Gnolls, the pursuing Giant Ants arrived and joined the general assault.
A larger and better armed party of Gnolls advanced on the far side of the farmhouse while another Troll appeared in the front yard.

Leaving the archers to duel with Gnolls, Bogdan and Hanali led a sortie against the second troll and managed to defeat the huge being.

The Gnolls having lost their archery duel with the heroes, there was a brief respite.  Sir Osmer took advantage of it to investigate a object sparkling in the rear yard...
...while Bogdan did the same in the fore yard retrieving some type of treasure.  As a dim light was returning to the sky, the barbarian saw a group of undead approaching.
As the heroes emerged to fight this new threat, they saw more Gnolls approaching from the east. Deciding that the dim morning light coming through the noxious clouds of the Shadow Deep was sufficient to attempt an escape, they called for the survivors to begin the retreat.
With Sir Rombys in the lead, the survivors quickly fled the ruined farmhouse, the heroes acting as a rear-guard. 

With the heroes' knowledge of the way out, the whole party managed to avoid further dangers and emerged from the dark underworld of the Shadow Deep. Although battered and ill, they had accomplished their mission of scouting the Darkness and had rescued what pitiful few humans who had survived.  A small first victory in what promised to be a long and terrible struggle.

To be continued...

The heroes were pretty successful throughout and ended going from level 0 to level 5 by the end of it and having acquired a number useful magical items.  I have most of the published ROSD materials so you will be seeing more of their adventures.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Rangers of Shadow Deep Campaign Continued

This is a continuation of the solo campaign I've been running using Rangers of Shadow Deep, a variation of the Frostgrave system by Joseph McCullough. 

 This was the conclusion of the adventure in which our heroes were tasking with recapturing the border tower of Tor Varden from the evil minions of the mysterious power of the Shadow Deep. At the end of my last session, the party had defeated a Gnoll outpost at a river crossing on the way to Tor Varden.  This session began as the party approached the tower itself.

As a reminder, here's the party of rangers - Sir Osmer of Esrey, a younger son serving with the Alladorian Rangers in hopes of making a name for himself. He is under the protection of three adventurers: a pair of Lygoshi barbarians, Kyra the Red and Bogdan the Black and Hanali the Wood Elf.  Sir Osmer is an NPC "companion" in game terms while the other three are stat’d as player characters.  
 This part of the adventure is divided into two scenarios.  The first covers the lower levels of the tower.  There are three large rooms in this level but what each room contains is determined randomly at the first entry of the rangers.

When the defeated the Gnolls in the last session, the heroes had obtained a map showing where all of the nearby outposts and patrols were located.  They were thus able to approach the tower without being noticed. However, they could hear screams coming from inside the tower; perhaps one of the garrison still survived.

Kyra was then able to pick the lock on the outer door, ensuring the complete surprise of the occupants within.

 This first room proved to be a store room containing four very surprised Gnoll warriors.

 The rangers were upon them before they could grab their bows.  Two gnolls went down in the first round.  The two remaing gnolls  ganged up on Bogdan.

Although lightly wounded, the barbarian held them off long enough for his friends to come to his aid.  The two gnolls were quickly put down.  In this scenario, the players have a limited number of turns to clear the room and open the door to the next room.  If they had failed, the gnolls would have been alerted and waiting in ambush. In the case of this game, the rangers held the initiative throughout and managed to clear each of the rooms in only two or three turns.

The next room proved to contain a shaman working some dark spell.

 The gnoll shaman was attempting to animate a corpse to make a flesh golem.  Unless the heroes killed the shaman quickly, they would have to face the horrific creature.

 While Bogdan, Kyra, and Osmer dispatched the gnoll guards, Hanali distracted the shaman by shooting arrows at it.  In a short time, the shaman was surrounded and struck down despite its fierce reistence.  The golem never had the chance to leave the table.
 The third room was a torture room. 
 A gnoll sergeant was working on a surviving member of the garrison while two other prisoners grimly waited their turn under the gnoll's knives.

The rangers charged the sergeant and struck him down.  This gave a chance to the other two gnoll guards to counter attack.

 After a surprising tough fight in which the rangers took some hits, the last of the gnolls was finally killed.  Leaving Helmer to get the prisoners to safety, the rest of the party took the stairs that led to the top of the tower.

 This was the next and last scenario in this adventure.  The top of the tower had been used for a signal beacon.  A rotting wooden walkway surrounded the tower.  Three gnoll archers patrolled the walkway.

The minions of Shadow Deep were using the beacon pyre for more nefarious purposes, some type of magic involving the sacrifice of one of the women of the former garrison.  It was her screams that the rangers heard when they first arrived at the tower. Preparing to sacrifice her was a Shadow Knight, one the Shadow Deep's more powerful minions, assisted by a gnoll warrior.

 At first only Bogdan, Kyra, and Hanali were able to hurl themselves through the trap door to the tower roof.
 They charged the gnoll fighter, hoping to kill it quickly and then face the counter attack by the Shadow knight.  Their plan worked.  The gnoll was killed in the first attack and then the Shadow Knight counter attacked. Bogdan was ready for him.  Using an Axe of Elemental Power he had found in the storeroom, the Crushing Blow special ability, his own Fight prowess and with the support of Kyra and Hanali (and a great deal of luck), the barbarian struck the Knight down with one mighty blow.

After freeing the prisoner, and now joined by Osmer, the party faced the problem of dispatching the gnoll archers.  They split up, Hanali began stalking one of the archers.  She noticed strange green smoke rising from the next signal tower, Tor Dargos, and the sight and smell of the foul smoke struck fear in her heart.  (The scenario rules provide that the other two towers in the chain were also part of the spell.  Every second turn, the pyre on one of these other towers was lit, causing negative effects on the heroes.  In this case, all the heroes had to role a Will check, failure of which meant being reduced to only one action per turn.  Hanali was the only one who failed her check.)  Nonetheless, she managed to have the good fortune of killing one archer with a lucky shot (She rolled a nature 20 which added to her shoot score guaranteed the gnolls immediate demise.)

 Bogdan and Osmer went after the second gnoll archers while Kyra attempted to hold the third at bay.
The party was now all armed with bows taken from fallen gnolls and could trade shots with the archers, weakening them before going out on the walkway to take them out.

After some maneuvering, the third archer was finished.  The party had retaken Tor Varden.

However, they saw that nearby, an enormous, crevice-like, poisoned tear had opened in the land, leading to the Shadow Deep itself.

After a brief rest, the rangers decided they had the duty to investigate and set off, down in the veritable bowels of hell.  To be continued...