...no, not those ones...
And thus, my party of brave companions for Rangers of Shadow Deep is complete!
Rangers of Shadow Deep is primarily a narrative based solo wargame, and this is how I selected my crew:
My Ranger is actually a Paladin from the kingdom of... somewhere, I haven’t chosen a name yet. Potentially the kingdom that just got eaten by the Shadow Deep (Lorenthia?) - the narrative that I imagine for her is that she had a vision of terrible things happening, a mighty darkness spreading across all the land, all that jazz, and so was dutifully sent off on a crusade to smite and purge the darkness. In reality, whilst her vision was in fact sent from the gods, and correctly foreshadowed actual terrible things about to befall the kingdom, opponents of hers in her home land politically outmanoeuvred her and arranged for her to be sent out of the kingdom, where she wouldn’t be able to interfere with their self-serving politicking. The joke is on them though, as not long after she gathered her companions and set out to smite the unworthy, the Shadow Deep consumed their entire kingdom, leaving few survivors...
So, how did I choose this Ranger, and how did I spend my points? Honestly, I just wanted to use this mini, and the backstory flowed from that! I gave her a bump to movement (to reflect her elven parentage) as well as a boost to fight, to represent her taking a generally hands-on approach to punishing the wicked. +20 Recruitment Points, as I intend to primarily play solo, and three points spent on skills, because, well... I want her to be able to do some stuff?
Getting distracted slightly, there’s an interesting argument to be had about optimising in Role-playing games - whilst it can be interesting to overcome your statistical shortcomings, in a heroic adventure if your stats don’t support your ability to do the things you intend to, it isn’t much fun (essentially, if you don’t have good enough stats that you consistently fail at every task you attempt, it isn’t particularly fun or heroic. On the other hand, I tend to roll really badly when playing D&D, leading to my highly skilled adventurer falling off of all sorts of interesting and exotic things...).
She got a spread of skills, but zero points in Pick Lock, Stealth, or Traps, as such subterfuge is not for a follower of a god that I still haven’t chosen a name for...
With the remaining points, I took the spell Heal, as I envision that being a suitably holy ability for a paladin clad in shining armour, and the ability Hand of Fate (as a reroll is exactly what you get when you’ve got a god looking out for you). For the final point... I’m not sure, currently. At the moment I have Focus written on the sheet, to represent a ‘divine inspiration’ type skill (I’ve been listening to ‘The World Tree Burns’ actual play D&D podcast a lot recently, and a character in that did something similar, communing with Wotan to temporarily gain proficiency in alchemy, which inspired this choice). However, on the other hand I see my paladin as very much the smiting type, so I may take a more combat oriented skill to start with and save Focus for a future level up reward, to represent her gaining the ability through her ongoing dedication and service to her holy patron...
Equipment wise, I was led by the model - heavy armour, sword and board. Popular opinion on the internet is that heavy armour is too restrictive in ROSD, and she’ll promptly drown, but I’ll take my chances! She also took a Holy Icon, because Paladin. Originally I was tempted to take a throwing dagger, to represent some sort of single use smiting power, but decided in the end to break my usual WYSIWYG tendencies and give her a bow, as we’re going to need to shoot some bad guys (and her companions are generally lacking in ranged abilities...)
For her companions, rather than a group of hirelings or a military unit, I saw them as more of an adventuring party, and so she is accompanied by:
Finneas Proudfoot, Halfling Rogue
(Thank you random website with lists of example halfling names for that one)
This was actually the first miniature that I decided I wanted to use for my Rangers of Shadow Deep project (because... just look at him! Everything Westfalia Miniatures make is brilliant, but this is really the cream of the crop) which turned it onto the theme of an adventuring party rather than the standard royalty appointed ranger group. Admittedly, I also considered several other options (the Witcher! Game of Thrones! Samurai!) before finally settling on this one...
Whilst you might not expect to find a dastardly villain (in the eyes of the law, really he’s more of a loveable rogue to his friends) like this accompanying a holy avenger, I imagine she justifies it as turning his ‘unique skills’ to a higher purpose, and maybe even redeeming him along the way... Finneas, on the other hand, is entirely happy to go where the money is, as long as there is food to be had and ample opportunities to keep his hand in with a little lockbreaking and light burglary... I gave him survival for his additional skill, after some musing, as it references food preparation in the description, and the mini has a sausage or two to hand after all!
(Name stolen from the barbarian in the D&D game that I played in before lockdown)
A Savage, to dole out the beatings to anything that might stand in the party’s way. I chose a barbarian rather than a savage purely because I preferred the paint job on this mini over any of the barbarians I have with a single handed weapon! His additional skill points went to Swim, which inspired the name (as the character in our party that was the inspiration is a barbarian from a boating tribe, who is a keen swimmer)
(A name I liked, rather than a reference, unusually)
Another crew member picked because I liked the model, originally painted way back during the original (and only) Week of Mega Power, back in the heady days of 2012, before having children when I could dedicate an entire week to just painting miniatures! He was chosen as an arcanist, as I imagined the paladin pulling together her crew to cover a variety of skills that she herself isn’t as proficient at, allowing them to prevail through almost any situation, rather than just bringing a cadre of bloodthirsty warriors to attempt to punch out the Shadow Deep (although don’t worry, the paladin herself won't shirk from applying sword based solutions to most problems). His additional skill points were put into Armoury, as I imagined him being a faithful follower from their holy order that has accompanied her on many a crusade, tasked not only with lore based responsibility but also the maintenance of her armour and weapons, themselves relics of their order.
Five Trees Falling
(Yes, the name is a Thursday reference)
We’ve got a rogue for the sneaky sneaky, an arcanist for any mysteries, and a tracker for any outdoors type activities! This mini is the only one that was painted specially, as mentioned in the previous post, as it had the right equipment! While ROSD isn’t strictly wysiwyg, I figured I was less likely to forget what equipment she had if I could just look at the mini... and so, she was plucked out of the queue of undercoated Wildling miniatures that live on my painting desk (narrowly beating out the Frostgrave cult tracker, which whilst beautifully posed would have been yet another male mini). She got Survival as her additional skill, as I see her as an outdoorsy type, living off the land.
Jarreth Eisteddfod, the ladies favourite, Prince of Mages, Chosen of the Falling Star
(A magical forename with a Tripod song referencing surname, and then plentiful titles that I imagine he has awarded himself)
The last member of the party is my jeggings and headband wearing wizard. Originally I wanted to include an owl familiar for my Paladin, but the allure of having a Jim Darkmagic-esque wizard was too much to resist! I imagine that he’s something of a new hire, having talked himself up in the local taverns, and now it’s time to prove himself... Plus, I can always acquire a winged companion the first time the Paladin gets a Recruitment Point increase on levelling up, which I imagine narratively as being a reward sent from her god to accompany her on her ongoing adventures... I took him as a conjuror, although I believe there are a number of more specialised magic users in the Temple of Madness expansion... He got Read Runes as his additional skill, as I imagine that despite him being mostly bluster and self-promotion, he is actually trained in the use and understanding of magic...
And that’s the party! All I need to do now to be able to play the first scenario is paint some peasants. And finish painting the buildings. And fences. And make some bushes. Paint some barrels. Make some trees. Maybe make a mat... coming in 2022 at this rate...