Grisly Eye Games

NPC Block (Version 4)

This is an update as I continue to iterate on my design for a non-player character stat block format for. As previously discussed a few times. Here we have Lyrum, stated up in version 4 of my NPC stat block:

Example NPC block version 4.0

Header

As with the monster stat block, the header contains the name and a brief summary of the NPC:

Example NPC block header, version 4.0

Race and alignment are pretty self-explanatory. The NPC header also adds the stat block (in bold) and starting attitude (in brackets) of the character.

The stat block references the monster stat block the NPC would use in combat. This would normally be a NPC stat block from Appendix B in the Monster Manual. Here, Lyrum uses the statistics for the archmage. While roleplaying him use the NPC block above. If the party decide to attack him, use the archmage stat block for combat.

Keeping combat and roleplaying statistics separate here means we can keep the NPC block short. I'm a big fan of having all the information about an NPC in one place. But stat blocks containing both combat and roleplaying statistics quickly become unwieldy.

The NPC starting attitude is a reference to the social interaction rules from chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. I use a lot in my own campaigns. You could argue this duplicates the information in alignment. Evil characters would be hostile to good characters, and vice versa. While neutral characters would always be indifferent, and so forth.

Description

After the header follows a block of read-aloud text describing the NPC as they might appear to the PCs:

Example NPC block description, version 4.0

This section should also include the all-important distinctive features of your NPC. These are the memorable, visual cues that separate them from the (many) other characters in your campaign. This allows your players to place them even if they forget their name (as they often do).

Characteristics

Following the description are the NPC's personal characteristics:

Example NPC block characteristics, version 4.0

Personality traits serve two purposes. Firstly, they tell you how to roleplay the character. They can also act as secondary distinctive features (my players never forgot the old wizard who sneezed all the time).

The bond is important because it tells you the role the NPC will play in your campaign. For most NPCs this is their day job. Is the NPC a simple town guard, constantly raining on the party's parade? Or, in the case of Lyrum, a ruthless manipulator the party can't quite trust?

Ideals and flaws give you something to tell your players when they Insight an NPC. Again, in the rules for social interaction in the DMG in-sighting a flaw or ideal can give you advantage on a Charisma check. Or disadvantage, if you get it wrong.

(It's worth noting a few optional rules in the DMG refer to personal characteristics, like the rules for Morale)

I also preface each personal characteristic with a short, descriptive names so that DMs can get a rough idea of an NPC at a glance.

Secrets

After the personal characteristics is the Secrets section:

Example NPC block secrets, version 4.0

All good NPCs have something to hide. Secrets are the mysterious elements of an NPC: the hidden agendas, shady pasts and foul allegiances. They give an NPC depth and highlight to a DM how they could be used beyond simple interactions.

At first secrets might seem to duplicate characteristics. NPCs might closely guard their flaws, ideals and even bonds. However, you don't want your players knowing somethings about your NPC simply because they rolled well on an Insight check.

Some secrets have a tell: something about the NPC only perceptive or knowledgeable characters might notice. Other secrets may only be uncovered through play.

Activities

Lastly, is the Activities section:

Example NPC block activities, version 4.0

Activities are the everyday things an NPC might be doing when the party encounters them. For example, the first time the party encounter Lyrum he's having difficulty picking papers off the floor. The party might step in to help, only to irritate him even more. Next time, they find him wandering alone at night, sore with insomnia.

This is the section I'm least sure about. You could argue personality traits would cover this. It's a remnant of the agenda section from the version 3 stat block. Long-term agendas didn't really work for individual NPCs. In 5E a lone NPC can be resolved with a single combat or ability check, so I moved them to a new concept called fronts (more on that later).

Summary

I hope you found this useful, please feel free to steal any and all of the ideas here. All I ask is you let me know how you used them, and what did and did not work.

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 34)

This is the fifth campaign diary for my 5th Edition D&D playtest campaign, Black Griffin. Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

The below is an edited log from of our in-character chat channel. We've added annotations so you can follow what's going on. Please enjoy!

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene IV: Night 1 (Continued)

When we last left our low-level bounty hunters, they had been ambushed while on patrol. From the shadows, squealing assailants attack sending arrows flying at the party.

Biron

roars from the top of the fence, staring down.

booms DANGER!

The party feels a shudder as Biron starts to rage out, as though they were all raging themselves. Arrows continue to shoot out of the shadows at Ba and Biron, but they narrowly dodge out of the way. The party sees three small... creatures with pale skin dodging through the shadows between the tents.

Ba'Raknul

locks eyes on the creatures, draws his spear, and rushes forward.

Biron

roars again and stares out at the creatures running.

As Ba closes the distance he sees something cowering before him. With white worm-like flesh, it’s as small as a child, yet it has animal-like ears, wears a leather jerkin, and wields a bow and arrow. It squeals as his kick lands into its leg with an audible crack.

Ba'Raknul

spins low and kicks out again, propping himself down low using the spear and torch as protection.

Ba sends the creature flying into a nearby tent. It doesn't appear to be moving anymore.

Orin

squints at the shapes moving about but still can't see clearly enough to be satisfied. They hold fast, waiting for Ba'Raknul to attack another one.

Biron

flies off the top of the fence with a mighty leap to charge down one of the pale pig creatures, roaring the whole time. He takes out his newly acquired sword for the fight.

The strange blade seems to hand in Biron’s hand. He feels the draining effect as it sucks the life force out of him, but also the strange, empty power it replaces it with.

As he runs screaming up to another of the small creatures, he catches the glimpse of hoof-like hands drawing a small shortsword. It's hard to tell in the dim light.

Despite its inhuman appearance, its flesh cuts just like human flesh and the creature squeals, turning its tiny, pig-like snout toward Biron and glaring at him with inhuman hatred.

Biron’s swing nicks the creatures face, opening a gash along its snout, but not injuring it fatally.

Biron

glares with huge eyes toward the pig creature while roaring at it.

At that it turns, with its compatriots, evades Biron and Ba swinging after them and runs into the shadows with inhuman nimbleness.

Orin

reacts quickly, aiming an arrow at the creature Biron injured.

Orin’s arrow was crafted well and strikes true, hitting a creature square between the shoulder blades and sending it flying. With that the party sees two other small creatures sprinting with inhuman speed into the warren of tents.

However, at that moment they hear a tremendous creaking sound!

The tower closest to them begins to list, you can hear the shouts of the mercenaries within it. For a moment it seems to hold... but then gravity asserts its will and the tower plummets towards them! Ba'Raknul and Biron manage to roll out of the way, but Orin is distracted by their quarry and tarries a moment too long.

A splintered strut slams into Orin’s leg, sharp pain flashing across the left side of their body.

Biron

roars in anger!

Get them!

Ba'Raknul

pulls the flame prepared arrow out of his bag, lights it on the torch, and fires it straight into the air.

The arrow flies up over the barricade and lands somewhere in the cleared ground around the camp. Biron hears shouts from the other towers.

Ba'Raknul

shouting at Biron Chase them down! We won’t be far behind!

He moves to Orin to check on them.

Ba examines Orin's leg: it is bruised and will be colourful come the morn, but they are okay and seem capable of standing up.

Orin pushes themself up, only giving their bow a short look over before drawing another arrow and firing at another of the creatures.

A true archer, Orin lines their arrow up just so... to strike one of the fleeing creatures! They see it go down hard.

Biron

charges forth to where the swine creatures went, yelling as he goes.

The fallen tower is mostly in one piece, with many broken struts, injured, groaning archers and supports lying everywhere.

Biron

runs, placing his sword back into its sheath, and uses his whole body to push forward.

Biron feels the strange and powerful drain leave him as he sheaths the blasphemous sword.

Biron

charges on ahead trying to keep up with the creatures.

shouting "DANGER! KILL THE INTRUDERS!"

Biron runs with impressive speed, tents whipping past him as he keeps the small creature in sight. He turns a corner and almost catches it... before it slips from his grasp and runs off into the shadows of the tents. And somehow he loses sight of it completely!

All about the party men are roused from their slumber, grumbling and calling out "What goes there?", "What is the fuss?", and "Shut the fuck up!"

Biron

searches for traces of the swine folk, lighting a torch.

Ba'Raknul

looks down at Orin.

Make sure we get one of those bodies for proof. They have a habit of disappearing.

He makes a small prayer motion before channeling Ki into his legs and sprinting off, dirt exploding under foot, straight past Biron and over any obstacle in his way to try cutting the creatures off.

passing Biron Keep shouting!

Apart from some very grumpy mercenaries, Ba sees nothing suspicious.

Orin

jogs into the tents where the creatures fell and grabs one of them, dragging it out into the open near the fallen tower.

Orin cannot quite believe what they see before them: a small creature, a pig really. It bears strange armor and a vicious sword made of the same, strange metal of Biron's blade!

Orin

searches the pig-creature for anything informative.

The creature is strange... it looks like a pig dressed as a man, but somehow a pig wielding a small scimitar and shortbow. Its skin has the rubbery, pinkish quality of a pig, yet it bears what appears to be a face painted white... some kind of tribal symbol perhaps?

And its weapons are all made from the same strange blackened steel of Biron's mysterious sword. What is more, its belt buckle bears the same symbol of a half-lidded eye.

Meanwhile, among the tents…

Biron

snarls and searches for tracks or markings or traces of these infiltrators.

With a hunter's intuition Biron puts together the creatures speed, distance of travel, and finds a rough area where he thinks it would be lurking.

He turns over several tents, revealing several grumpy veteran mercenaries throwing curses and threats at him.

It's only as he turns over a blanket that seems to be left idly on the ground near a campfire does he find the creature.

It squeals at Biron!

Biron

makes a larger roar while standing over it.

IT’S HERE!

It slashes at Biron, cutting into his shins before racing off into the tents again... before running right into Ba!

Biron

wails at the short sharp pain and shouts after the creature in anger.

Ba'Raknul

shouting What in the gods? DANGER!

He tries to grab hold of the creature, then focuses again and brings his knee up twice to its face.

Ba grabs the creature and it squeals horribly, squirming in his grasp. The blow bloodies its face, splattering Ba’s knees with black ichor.

Biron

stares up towards the weird swine creature, a grim smile curled on his face.

He growls and moves to the creature and punches it to make it unconscious.

Puny beast.

The creature squirms out of the reach of Biron’s blow, he lands the hit on Ba instead, only pulling back at the last minute so as to not cause any real damage.

The creature squirms and squirms, and Ba fumbles, allowing the creature to drop to the ground. As soon as its free it darts back into the warren of tents.

Ba'Raknul

chases after the creature.

Nimble Ba easily catches up with it.

Ba'Raknul

swings a big knockout roundhouse punch to the creature.

With a sharp crack Ba knocks the creature out cold!

Ba'Raknul

moves quickly to secure the creature, taking it into custody and searching it for anything on its person.

The pig beast bears familiar symbols and weapons, as well as bearing a face painted white. As well as a pouch containing 12 silver pieces. These also bear the eerie symbol of the half-lidded eye as borne by Biron's sword.

Ba'Raknul

takes all of them and puts them in his bag together to show to Agata

Biron

picks up the other dagger.

He grunts.

A crowd of mercenaries are gathering around the tower. One turns to Orin.

Soldier

What happened here?

Orin

We were attacked. We need more people on guard. These creatures knocked down the tower for a reason.

They remove the bow and sword from the pig-like corpse as well as the creature's belt buckle, then turn to the fallen archers.

Several men and women start attending to the injured, carrying them off to the Infirmary. But now this part of the barricade is un-defended from attack.

Ba'Raknul

puts the unconscious creature over his shoulder. He tries to hide the face and moves towards Biron.

Make sure no one sees the corpses.

He starts trying to collect the bodies stealthily while the soldiers talk to Orin.

Biron

grunts and moves.

Ba collects the four corpses from where the party left them without anyone noticing in the chaos. Although, already many mercenaries are going back to sleep.

Ba'Raknul

catches the party’s eyes, once he has the bodies, and mouths "AGATA" silently before heading directly to her tent quickly and quietly.

Orin

searches the fallen tower for signs of how it was done.

Orin can clearly see where the struts were being hacked away, at the two feet level... just about arm height for the small creatures they killed.

Biron

meets up with Orin.

in a low voice We've still got patrol.

He stares at all the people around, remembering there are still infiltrators in the camp.

Orin

nods at Biron. We can't leave this position unattended.

Biron

searches the crowd for anyone that looks like they were involved.

It's not.

Orin

gestures to another pair of sleepy mercs wander off to their tent.

Any minute now.

Nothing seems untoward as far as Biron can tell. It’s much as expected from a crowd of veteran mercenaries wakened from their drunken slumber.

A few company engineers are already gathering to assess the damage and discussing plans to start construction of a new tower the next day.

Biron

growls and steps forward in front of some privates.

You. Keep this place guarded until secure. We are still on patrol.

The privates grumble, but comply.

Biron

grunts, then moves back to Orin.

We need to patrol.

Orin

We need to report what happened.

Ba'Raknul

steps slightly out the shadows.

Let's continue patrol until we're near Agata's tent. If we abandon our post something else could happen... The towers have already been put on alert.

If we run into Loth or Agata, we get their attention.

Orin:

What'll we do with the pigs?

Ba'Raknul

shrugs.

I'll carry them, you'll just have to cover me.

I can drop them if it gets really hairy.

Biron

grunts and rolls eyes.

Orin

sighs.

Okay.

The party proceeds with their patrol, which continues around the perimeter quite without event. As they pass the fetches’ camp on the last circuit of the night, they spy lamplight coming from Agata's tent.

Ba'Raknul

sees the light and nods his head.

Orin, can you go see if she's alone and if we can have a moment?

He then finds a place in the shadows to hide and wait.

Orin

nods.

Biron

stops a moment and looks.

He grunts and follows Orin.

He keeps a little distance from them and instead of entering Agata’s tent he moves slightly around it to the back where the rip was originally made. He tries to keep his footsteps light to not get noticed.

Biron sees the tear in the tent has since been hastily repaired with the usual lack-lustre skill that characterises Griffin Company.

Orin can hear a low voice talking from the tent, not enough to make out the words but its definitely Agata speaking.

Orin

steps quietly and leans into the tent to listen.

They step quietly indeed.

Agata

We can only assume they know about the safe houses in Dismas and our agents in Old Town.

We'll have to burn the lot.

She sighs heavily.

There is further discussion about possible missions for fetches, not including your team. Some being sent across the border into Commonwealth territory.

Orin

leans back again, clears their throat, and scratches at the tent's door.

Agata?

There is a pause and a rustling of papers...

Agata

You may enter, private.

Orin

enters and bows their head a little.

Orin enters the tent to find Agata bent over her table, with Loth, as always, hovering nearby.

Orin

Sorry to disturb, but I assume you heard the noise earlier? We caught some infiltrators.

They pull out the belt buckle.

They bore this mark.

Agata

raises an eyebrow.

Never seen it before in my life, private.

What was all that commotion?

Biron

walks around the tent to listen to Orin.

To be continued...

Stress and Psychic Injury

Stress Illustration

Public Domain image taken from Philocothonista, or, The drunkard, opened, dissected, and anatomized, 1635.

Damage. It is at the heart of rules for Dungeons & Dragons. Hit points are god. This is an excerpt from my forthcoming monograph, The Harrowed that expands on the variant rules for sanity, madness and lingering injuries in Chapter 9 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

They are inspired by my favourite computer game, Darkest Dungeon. If you haven't played it, check it out. The rules for stress are particularly well thought out, adding an additional time pressure to complete adventures.

Variant: Stress

This variant is for gritty or low fantasy campaigns where adventuring life is not just hard on the body, but risks sanity as well.

When you encounter a stressful event you must make a Charisma saving throw or suffer psychic damage. If you fail your saving throw by 5 or less you also become Frightened for 1 minute. The DC and amount of damage depends on the difficulty of the stress: whether it is disturbing, shocking, horrifying or monstrous as per the Stressful Events table.

In low fantasy campaigns, where monsters (at least the non-human kind) are rare or legendary, encountering such creatures could be also a stressful event. See the following table:

CR Stress Difficulty
0-4 Disturbing
5-10 Shocking
11-15 Horrifying
16+ Monstrous

You get advantage on the Charisma saving throw if you have encountered this type of magical creature before. If you fail your saving throw by 5 or less you also become Frightened for 1 minute.

Stressful Events
Difficulty DC Damage Examples
Disturbing 15 1d4 Defeat in combat, witnessing a stranger take a severe wound or die, being trapped underground without light.
Shocking 17 1d8 Witnessing an ally take a severe wound or die, being betrayed by an ally, witnessing torture.
Horrifying 20 1d10 Witnessing an ally transform into a monstrous creature, a premonition of the end of the world, being tortured.
Monstrous 25 1d20 Encountering a god, being transported to hell, transforming into a monstrous creature.

Variant: Lingering Psychic Injuries

This variant gives an additional table for lingering injuries for psychic damage. Continue to roll on the old Lingering Injuries table for non-psychic damage.

Lingering Psychic Injuries
d20 Psychic Injury
1 Mania. You have advantage on all attack rolls. When you make an attack roll, attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.
2 Panic. You have disadvantage on all Dexterity attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks.
3 Traumatised. Your exhaustion is always one level higher.
4 Despair. You, and any creature within 30 feet of you who can hear and understand you, have disadvantage on Charisma saving throws.
5-7 Fearful. You, and any creature within 30 feet of you who can hear and understand you, have disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws.
8-10 Paranoid. You gain the flaw Trust no-one, they are out to get me. Your speed is halved and you have disadvantage on Wisdom ability checks and saving throws.
11-13 Irrational. You gain a delusion as a new flaw. You have disadvantage on all Intelligence saving throws and ability checks. Roll on the delusions table, or come up with your own.
14-16 Selfish. You gain the flaw I cannot stop talking about myself. You have disadvantage on all Charisma ability checks.
17-20 Tick. You gain a odd as a new personality trait. Roll on the ticks table or create your own tick.
Ticks
d4 Tick
1 I constantly grind my teeth.
2 I flinch whenever anyone is about to touch me.
3 My left eye constantly twitches.
4 I get uncontrollable shakes.
Delusions
d4 Delusion
1 I have been chosen by the gods to save the world from doom.
2 I am worthless and deserve to die.
3 Demons speak to me in my dreams and tell me terrible truths.
4 I am convinced I'm dying of a fatal disease.

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 33)

This is the fourth campaign diary for my 5th Edition D&D playtest campaign, Black Griffin. Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

The below is an edited log from of our in-character chat channel. We've added annotations so you can follow what's going on. Please enjoy!

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene IV: Night 1 (Continued)

When we last left our misaligned bounty hunters they had just challenged a group of Royalist bailiffs interrogating junior members of their mercenary company.

Biron

stands up straight and stares and the Sergeant, head half turned.

Helia

notices Biron for the first time and squares up to him, while giving Ba the side eye.

We are in the King's lands and the King's Law stands here! I have a warrant to question anyone I please. Speaking of which... Do you have a dog?

Biron

growling Does it look like it?

Ba'Raknul

smiles.

calmly I do not own a dog.

Helia

raises an eyebrow.

Yes, it does look like it.

She looks Biron up and down.

Biron

keeps eye contact and stands squarely in front of the sergeant.

You lookin’ for somin’?

The situation gets more tense; the bailiffs about Helia reach for the pommels of their swords.

Biron

snorts, but doesn’t break eye contact.

Helia

Traitors, spies that escaped capture.

Have you been in Dismas recently?

Ba'Raknul

We go wherever the king needs us.

Biron

barks So you come to our camp, on a witch hunt?

Helia

eyes narrow.

There are witches here too?

Biron

strafes a step around the sergeant, still looking at her, to see how she moves.

He rolls his eyes.

Ba'Raknul

tries to catch the twins attention.

Go get Agata.

Helia

Stay where you are!

The twins look wide eyed between Ba and Helia, but do not move.

Biron

Where are you from?

Helia

sniffs.

Norton.

more cautiously And you?

Biron

The Forests.

Helia

You think that buys you some favor? Do you think me so soft?

Biron

scoffs Soft?

Helia

I'll ask you again... Were you in Dismas within the last week?

Biron

growls again.

motions to Ba What he said. Now get outta here.

You done pestering? Or would you like every one in the camp…

The bailiffs behind her draw their swords! One particularly large fellow with black skin growls.

Bailiff

Show some respect.

Ba'Raknul

steps forward a little.

You need to put your sword away. NOW!

Orin

sees the threat from where they hide in the shadows. They turn away from the scene, weaving in between tents in the direction of Agata's.

Helia

raises her hand to stay her bailiffs.

Ba'Raknul

seeing the Sergeant-Bailiff, nods to her.

He steps back again, leaving the floor to her.

Biron

doesn’t take his eyes off Helia.

Helia

cracks a smile broken by the scar running across her face. The smile does not reach her eyes.

Let me be clear. I have a warrant to interrogate who I please in this camp. Over the next few days I'll be looking around and let me tell you this:

I will find the traitors who bore your arms and escaped the King's Army.

Do you understand?

Biron

stares silently at her for a moment.

Ba'Raknul

smiles and nods.

As you wish… But I'll be around to make sure you’re not just bullying confessions out of innocent, hard working men.

Biron

cracks a small smile himself and looks away.

Helia

Is there such a thing as an innocent mercenary?

Biron

The south seems to have affected you.

Her soldiers laugh behind her at the jest.

Helia

And who exactly are you two?

Ba'Raknul

bows again low.

in his native tongue Ba’ Raknul at your service.

Biron

We're the guys doing our job at the front line of a battle. And you come to cause trouble with them?

The ones who serve your king?

Where's the pride in that?

Where is the honour? Or did you leave that at home too?

He gives Helia a death look.

Then a smile.

Helia

I'll not take lessons in honour from a sellsword! And watch your tongue or I'll have you in chains!

At that moment, Sergeant Agata appears with Orin in tow. She's dressed in a white nightgown and is accompanied by Loth in full uniform.

Agata

What is going on here?

Biron

steps backs once Agata arrives.

Ba'Raknul

Our king’s finest were interrogating the men.

It looked more like bullying confessions from scared kids to me.

Biron

Seemed a little suspicious, bearing in mind our other... issues today.

Agata

sighs.

Agata

Corporals Biron, Ba'Raknul. Stand down.

Biron

nods and backs away.

Agata

turns to Helia.

Agata

Apologies, Sergeant Helia. Your prompt arrival didn't give me time to make everyone...

She looks sharply at Biron and Ba.

...aware of your presence. Perhaps Corporal Loth could show you to your quarters and we could discuss this in the morning?

Helia

nods curtly.

Very well.

Biron

still stares at Helia while giving Agata a slow sideways nod. He’s straight faced, but keeps eye contact.

Ba'Raknul

nods to Agata.

We will get back on our watch.

He starts back to the north gate.

Agata

One moment, corporals. A word in your ear.

Ba'Raknul

steps in closer.

Loth

leads the bailiffs off deeper into the camp.

The twins, always sensitive to moments when they aren't being watched, run off too.

Agata

slaps her head.

You do not like giving me an easy life do you?

Orin

stands toward the back of the fracas, looking at their boots.

Biron

stands at full attention and stays quiet.

Agata

I have ten other fetches, yet spend most of my time running after you.

Should it not be t'other way around?

Orin

steps forward.

You knew she was here questioning people?

Biron

We saw two members of our team shouting and scared. We came to investigate.

Ba'Raknul

We came upon strangers bullying two of the men.

Biron

I am sorry for the misunderstanding, ma’am.

After dealing with the Sparrow and knowing there’s spies in our camp, it seemed good to be sure.

Agata

I appreciate your concern for your fellow mercenary, but did you not see the warrant?

We need to keep those bailiffs sweet, we're already on a rocky footing with our... clients.

Biron

gives a nod and a grunt.

We shall stay out of their way for rest of their time here

Orin

I don't understand. Would it not have been sensible to tell us there were people looking for us in the camp right here that didn't need your permission to cart us off at their own leisure?

Agata

raises an eyebrow at Orin.

Not that you're first in my thoughts, Private Orin, but they just arrived an hour ago.

I didn't think they'd get started before dawn.

Ba'Raknul

She is zealous.

Biron

grunts at Ba.

Orin

grunts and folds their arms.

Agata

turns to Biron.

Treason is a bit of a serious crime, Corporal.

Biron

nods.

Orin

And yet you know none was committed.

Biron

We will stay away from them while they are here.

Orin

nods.

Agata

Good idea. An even better idea is me returning to bed!

Good night!

Biron

gives a single nod to Agata and waits for her to leave.

Agata storms off into the camp, looking quite the sight in her nightgown and boots.

Ba'Raknul

turns to the others.

Well, shall we get back to it?

Biron

gives a grunt and single nod.

Ba'Raknul

starts heading toward the north gate.

Orin

follows after Ba.

Biron

One thing, if that sergeant has any north pride in her, she will be hard to fight off. We should avoid her.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

Biron

goes back to his position on the outside of the wall.

Ba'Raknul

gives the nod, once everyone’s in position, and they set off again.

The party move along the perimeter of the North Camp, where the more veteran mercenaries stow.

It is a more staid affair than the East Camp; only a few, more grizzled folk smoke pipes, drink camp wine, and swap war stories around fires.

As they pass the northwest wall they approach the borders of Friar Wood.

Biron

starts to feel uncomfortably alone on the wrong side of the barricades, with the dark trees so close hiding who knows what?

He glares out to the woods

He sniffs the air and listens closely.

All seems very still on this side of the wall.

Biron stares deep into the woods, the strange feeling that something is looking back at him. Something, a shadow in a tree, watching... eyes glinting...

It hoots!

And Biron is startled as an owl flies off into the night sky.

Biron

snarls.

Biron’s heart pounds in his chest. Otherwise, nothing seems untoward.

Biron

narrows his eyes, but returns to marching.

Orin

follows Ba by about 2 meters, trying to keep watch, but mostly kicking rocks and brooding.

Ba'Raknul

scans inside, occasionally looking to the others in the group.

The party continues past the North Camp, passing the Infirmary and arriving at the West Gate without event.

Only one of the towers seems manned here by a unit of archers.

They feel a shudder of the limepit somewhere out there, in the darkness beyond the lights of the camp.

Biron

grunts.

Anythin’?

Ba'Raknul

shakes his head.

No all seems quiet.

Orin

It's odd that one of the towers is empty, isn't it?

Ba'Raknul

looks up to the manned tower and back to the others.

One moment, I'll go ask.

Orin

waits.

Ba'Raknul

looks for a way to climb up.

Biron

stands looking out to the limepit.

Ba sees a simple wooden ladder leading up to the tower nets.

Biron cannot see the limepit, but he can smell the rot of the dead bodies drifting across the night air.

Ba'Raknul

climbs up.

Ba is hailed by the archers in the tower.

Ba'Raknul

climbs up into the tower and takes a good look around.

Hey, how goes it?

A chorus of voices greet Ba back.

Archer

Good, good. How goes night patrol?

Ba'Raknul

So far nothing but some Royalist bailiffs... Nothing going on over here?

Archer

shrugs.

When me mam told me about a soldier's life she left out the parts where you sit on your arse all night doing nowt.

He laughs.

Ba'Raknul

Hahaha isn't it just. Say, we've noticed a few of the towers missing archers… Is that common?

Archer

Aye, we're fighting a war if you've heard. We're on half patrols while the Big Push is going on.

Ba'Raknul

thinks deeply.

And what’s the warning signal?

Archer

laughs.

When some arsehole shouts danger

Ba'Raknul

thinks again a bit more.

He roots in his bag.

Okay listen here…

He leans in and shows them the arrow prepped for flame.

Each of you make one of these… Any issues, let it off straight up. I'll let the others know.

Archer

nods.

Aye, sir. But you'd best tell the other towers, otherwise it won't do much good.

Ba'Raknul

Yeah I will do and I'll talk to the higher-ups about inputting something a little safer than an arsehole shouting danger.

Archer

salutes.

Ba'Raknul

salutes back and drops down the ladder, feet barely touching, sliding all the way.

He lands without much noise and sighs at the others.

Our defences are shit. If you see a flaming arrow going straight up start shouting about danger on that side of camp.

Biron

grunts and nods.

Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin You ready?

Orin

nods.

Ba'Raknul

sets off forward again, more worried about the defenses than he was before.

The party passes the perimeter of the West Camp, largely empty as most of the forces involved in the push would've been camped here. That is, the soldiers not so green as to be a danger to themselves, or such veterans as to be wasted on such an enterprise. Used to the bustle of the camp, the quiet is unnerving for Orin and Ba.

They pass the commissary, but by now it's so late even Sly Ben isn't holding court anymore and has retired to wherever Ben goes when he sleeps.

Perhaps a ditch somewhere?

Finally you arrive back at the South Gate.

Ba'Raknul

sighs as they all come in again.

Seems quiet.

Biron

grunts.

Well this is fun.

We need to hunt for the spy.

Ba'Raknul

I need to tell the other towers about the signal... Shall we do another pass?

I'm not sure the spy is still here.

Biron

grunts.

He looks angry at this idea.

Orin

shrugs.

The party does another pass, alerting the towers of the new signal. It passes without event.

They do a third pass and dawn starts to break. When they arrive back at the South Gate the day patrol, grumpy as ever, are awaiting you.

Biron

growls.

It’s about time.

Patrolman

You better hurry or you'll miss breakfast.

Biron

walks past the day patrol without looking at them.

Ba'Raknul

nods to them.

Fairly quiet night. Have fun.

Patrolman

calls after them And don't be late tonight!

Ba'Raknul

Yeah, yeah, we won’t.

Orin

walks off to grab a plate from mess and brings it to the fetch's campfire where they sit, listening for suspicious chatter, and drink until everyone else leaves to get on with their day.

Ba'Raknul

heads straight for Agata's tent on the way home.

Biron

goes to the mess hall, to grab food, but sits alone as normal to eat in silence.

As Biron eats he hears a couple of privates whispering to themselves about news. Apparently a coven of witches was put to the flame by inquisitors.

Private

whispers Inquisitors! This far from the Capital?

Biron

rolls eyes.

Meanwhile Ba arrives at Agata's tent to find Loth standing guard outside. He shakes his head sternly and mimics a sleeping hand gesture to Ba.

Ba'Raknul

nods.

softly I have told the archers on night watch to loose a single flaming arrow in case of emergency… I have spread the word, but we need some form of better system, a bell or something.

Loth

nods.

Ba gets nothing more from the man.

Ba'Raknul

salutes and heads to his tent to eat rations and sleep.

Biron

eats his meal quietly then goes to his tent to rest.

Scene V: Night 2

The party are woken by the evening call for dinner, just a half-an-hour from dusk. Their stomachs growl, as they smell the evening meal waft from the mess. Smells like potatoes!

Ba'Raknul

rises and stretches, then heads out to seek food.

Biron

rolls out of bed and groans. He gets his stuff quietly and goes off for the evening meal alone.

They both meet in the mess. The usual crowds of mercenaries sit together: the fetches, infantrymen, musketeers.

Biron

grabs a plate of food, goes to the emptiest table, and sits quietly, ripping into the potatoes.

Ba'Raknul

scans the musketeers’ table looking for Lt Freya or Der Vynge.

Freya is away, but Der Vynge sits with the other musketeers murmuring amongst themselves. You notice the fetches seem especially agitated this evening. They speak in raised whispers amongst themselves.

Ba'Raknul

approaches the table where Der Vynge is sat and pauses a moment until the man notices him.

Ba gets a slight side-eye from Der Vynge before he turns to his partner and, in his strange language, says something that makes his companion smirk.

Biron

glowers at the other fetches and tries to listen what they are saying.

Biron overhears the fetches; apparently the bailiffs have been going tent-to-tent, turning them over in the fetches’ camp!

Biron

growls.

He stands with his plate and goes to Ba.

Eat at tent and grab Orin.

Ba'Raknul

Master Der Vynge, if I may have a moment of your time?

He nods to Biron.

I will see you at the tent, Biron.

Biron

He rolls eyes at Ba talking to the musketeers, then diverts quickly to Orin’s tent.

Der Vynge

sniffs.

Zat is Sergeant to you. Ivall!

I eat! Go away!

He says something else in his language, clearly some kind of swear.

Ba'Raknul

My apologies, Sergeant Der Vynge. I wish to learn how to shoot. I have heard you are the best.

He kneels low and bows to the floor. Will you teach me?

Der Vynge

tuts.

See me tomorrow, after breakfast.

He waves you away.

Ba'Raknul

stands and bows again.

Thank you.

Then he leaves to catch up to Biron.

Biron

gets to Orin’s tent, stepping in unannounced.

Oi, get your weasel ass up.

Orin

shouts Go burn.

Biron

grabs Orin by the scruff of the neck and pulls them off their bed.

Orin

What's your problem!

They grab their head and moan.

Biron

in a low voice The bailiffs are coming and turning over fetches’ tents and you need to get food. Work starts in half an hour.

He turns and leaves the tent as quickly as he arrived, leaving Orin on the floor.

Orin

Their eyes open wide.

Burning royalists!

They quickly get dressed and find The Sparrow's letter in their pack, tucking it into a secret pocket in their shirt.

They get dinner from mess and eat it on the way to meet the other two.

Biron

eats his food at the entrance to his tent, staring out at everyone who moves.

Ba'Raknul

gets back to his tent to prepare for their shift and wait for the others to get ready.

Having eaten their hasty repast, the party feels ready to face a long night patrolling the camp.

Biron

stands and walks to the South Gate as before. not waiting for the others.

Ba'Raknul

heads to the south gate as the time comes close.

The last of the sun’s light vanishes into dusk and the party assembles at the South Gate. Running a little late, the day patrol arrives for you to relieve them.

Patrolman

On time tonight!

Biron

grunts and ignores the soldier.

Orin

shrugs, grins, and offers the soldier a swig from their moonshine.

Patrolman

Now, that's what I call relief!

Ba'Raknul

nods.

You see anything?

Patrolman

gulps down a swig.

Just the usual, bored mercenaries causing trouble.

Right, we're off! Good luck!

Biron

Same again?

Ba'Raknul

turns to the group.

Okay, I say we do the opposite direction.

So if someone watched us last night…

Biron

grunts and start walking toward the West Gate.

Orin

Fine, as long as we leave that Sergeant Helia alone.

Biron

gives another grunt while walking away.

They party’s first patrol goes without mishap. They pass through the quiet West Camp, the calm of the North Camp, and the rowdiness of the East Camp.

Besides drunk mercenaries, nothing untoward happens.

Ba'Raknul

reaffirms the flame arrow signal with each tower.

However, on your second rotation, as you pass a tower on the North West wall, you hear an ominous creak. It appears to be coming from the nearby tower.

The light in this part of the camp is dim, and you can't see the cause of the creak without getting closer.

Ba'Raknul

pauses and holds a hand up.

Stay on alert, I'll get closer.

Biron

stares up to the tower.

Ba'Raknul

moves quietly toward it.

Biron

readies his axe and looks at the outside part of the tower to see if there are any marks.

Biron sees the flicker of light and perhaps the distant murmur of soldiers talking in the tower. He cannot see anything untoward from outside the wall.

Biron

To Attention!

Orin

knocks an arrow and directs it generally at the top of the tower, then moves into the nearest shadow.

Archer

Who goes there?

Ba'Raknul

moves up the ladder quickly and quietly.

Archer

calls another archer.

Biron

It’s Corporal Biron.

What's your status?

Ba never makes it up the ladder. As he emerges from the shadows and nears the tower an arrow flies at him from the shadows.

A number of arrows shoot out of the shadows of the nearby tents, all aimed at Ba. Two arrows fly for Ba, one to his shoulder blade and another at his calf.

Ba'Raknul catches one of the arrows and spins, throwing it back to where it came from.

Ba catches the blow that would've hit his calf and sends it back into the shadows. It hits something in the shadows with a hard thud.

The party hears a chilling but familiar squeal from the shadows!

Orin

peers closely in the direction the arrows came from, but without leaving their hiding place.

Orin can see something pale and small squirming in the dim shadows. Enough to train an attack on.

Orin takes a moment to watch the figure's moves before firing. They hold back, unable to see clearly and not wanting to give up their position.

On the other side of the barricade, Biron hears the sound of arrows flying and Ba grunting in pain.

Biron

hears the fighting starting and stares up at the tower. He makes a mighty shout of anger before running to jump to over the fence.

Biron’s hand slips on the treacherous surface of the barricade, designed to keep intruders out and he falls into the ditch below.

Biron

roars out loudly.

Fortunately, he’s used to fighting in thick mud and the mire at the bottom of the ditch doesn't waylay him.

Biron

recovers from the fall and tries the jump again.

Biron makes it to the top of the wall, just.

To be continued...

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 32)

This is the third campaign diary for my 5th Edition D&D playtest campaign, Black Griffin. Black Griffin is a play-by-chat game that runs every week on Roll20. The party are mercenaries in the employ of the infamous Company of the Black Griffin. Lowly even for sellswords, they have been placed on punishment duty as company fetches: bounty hunters charged with capture of deserters for trial.

The below is an edited log from of our in-character chat channel. We've added annotations so you can follow what's going on. Please enjoy!

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene III: The Infirmary (Continued)

When we last left our band of misfit mercenaries they had made it back to camp by nightfall with the unconscious body of the wounded boy. Waved through by the mercenaries on guard at the North Gate, they quickly made their way to the infirmary, which is manned this evening by Physick Vicmas.

This impossibly short man bears what appears to be a monks tonsure on his head. He demands payment to treat the child...

Biron

stares death-like and whispers coldly in Vicmas’ ear

You want the gold. take it. But if the kid dies? Not a guard in here can protect you... from... me.!

pushes him back and drops 10gp on the ground

Begrudgingly, Vicmas sweeps up Biron's gold and his orderlies sweep the boy up and carry him into the the infirmary tent.

Within is dark and gloomy. The stench of waste and death lingers and the low sound of groaning and suffering is pervasive.

Vicmas

How did this happen?

Biron

An attack… and fire.

Ba'Raknul

We don’t know what exactly happened. The farm was in tatters and we only found him.

Orin

stands in the corner silently, gripping their dagger with white knuckles and shooting more from their eyes

Vicmas

leans in closer to examine the boy’s missing arm

I've never seen a war wound cut this clean and even!

Ba'Raknul

sighs deeply It looked like who ever it was fled over the front line... They may have taken the family.

Ba'Raknul

And I saw no evidence of the arm.

Biron

stares towards Orin

stepping away from Vicmas You still have that sword?

Orin

growls What sword?

Biron

The black sword I gave you.

stares with his normal aggressive look, looking Orin straight in the face

Orin

Takes the pack off without taking their eyes from Vicmas. They reach in and pull out the wrapped sword, handing it to Biron.

Biron

looks at the sword for a moment and studies it a little more then last time

Something deep within Biron's bowels cringes as he hold the weapon. It is made of some kind of metal, like steel but blackened as if by soot. Its jagged edges bear a cruel, sharp edge and it bears a half-lidded eye on its hilt. The metal seems vaguely familiar to Biron.

Vicmas

By the Father! Where did you get that?

Biron

looks at Vicmas It was dropped.

Ba'Raknul

seeing the physicians reaction What do you know of it?

Vicmas

I've never seen its like before.

Biron

stares at the blade, unwraps it and spins it in his hand, checking its balance, and running fingers over the smooth side of the blade

Biron feels a sudden stab of cold in his hand, like the life being sucked out of him! So fearsome is the shock, he drops the blade on the ground.

Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin, still seething Orin, could you go let Agata know... We are supposed to be on duty tonight and we haven’t reported in yet.

Orin

takes a step toward the physick

You should worry more about the boy's flesh than this hunk of metal.

Ba'Raknul

steps a little closer to Orin

Please, Orin.

Biron

grunts, looking a little unsure about the sword

As soon as it is out of your hand, the feeling goes. It was a great weariness, but also power...

Biron

growls

Orin

ignores Ba

Biron

kneels down to look at the sword

sniffs

Vicmas

This is no place for weapon practice, begone from my infirmary!

Biron

goes to pick the sword back up

This time, ready for the shock, Biron can just about bear the weapon in his hands, but he feels an impossible weariness about him.

Vicmas

bustles about the boy, preparing a hot stave to seal the wound

Ba'Raknul

sighs at Orin and turns to Biron

I am going to stay here and make sure the boy is ok... Can you report in to Agata for me?

Biron

Seems to not hear Ba at first and lets out a groan when touching the sword again. He stumbles to his feet.

Orin

whispers to no one over their shoulder I may, if he isn't careful.

Such beady little eyes.

He's like a beetle, storing away its dung for later.

Ba'Raknul

We get it Orin, you don’t like him.

Vicmas

shoos Ba away

Visitors only for one hour after dawn. Lieutenant Vin’s orders!

Biron

walks out of the tent without saying a word, holding the sword and the cloth

Ba'Raknul

moves to the entrance of the tent and waits a moment

Once outside, he ponders a second before turning on the spot sitting down and waiting, not on the path but outside the tent.

Orin

to no one Well I won't if he fixes the boy.

No, you won't either. Shut up.

Vicmas

eyes Orin carefully and mutters something about shock under his breath

Orin

Not this time, toad. I said shut up!

Biron

paying no attention to anyone, wanders in the dark a moment staring at the blade

Biron feels rather than hears a low hum, as though the sword were speaking to him, though he cannot understand what it might say. He feels weary but, as he swings the sword, it gives easily in his hand, slashing with surprising speed and strength.

Biron

moving with the sword, whispers to himself Smooth, quick, powerful.

looks around to see the others, placing the sword into the cloth and putting it away

Instantly the weariness leaves Biron, as does the power.

Biron

looks around and suddenly acknowledges what Ba asked him to do. He starts to walk to Agata's tent

Back at the Physick’s tent…

Orin

loosens their grip on the dagger and starts pacing along one wall inside the tent

Vicmas

pokes his head out of the tent

Can you do something about this person?

Ba'Raknul

opens one eye ORIN! Get some rest. We have patrol later and the man needs to work... sithout you there.

Orin

What if he kills the boy? Or does anything else underhanded to him?

Ba'Raknul

Then I will be here and he will not.

He was paid and is here for the camp.

Orin

I can stay.

Ba'Raknul

Then you can stay out here with me.

Orin

Thinks hard while watching Vicmas work. They fidget, undecided, but eventually go outside with Ba.

Ba'Raknul

opens his eyes and motions next to him Do you wish to meditate with me?

It is getting late, past dusk, and Ba and Orin's stomachs growl. If they do not make it to the mess "hall" in the next half-hour or so, they'll miss the evening meal.

Ba'Raknul

The growl of his stomach causes him to become aware of the lack of food.

I dont know about you... but I could eat.

Orin

Go, eat. I've got a ration in my pack.

Ba'Raknul

stands. Just before leaving he places a hand on Orins shoulder.

He will be okay... I'll leave him under your watch.

He smiles once more and then heads towards the mess hall.

Orin

I just don't understand how people end up like that.

Ba'Raknul

as he walks Just don’t let their choices change you.

He disappears between the tents.

Ba weaves his way through the tents, the smell of fires and pipe smoke drifting in the air. About him mercenaries are filtering back from the mess and chatting amongst themselves as though the evening is about to get started.

Ba reaches the mess as dinner is winding up. There are still a few malingerers sternly eating the modest fare while they swap tales with each other. He is given a bowl of stew and a hunk of bread. He can see several groups of people sitting together. Fetches in one corner. Hyde's fetches nearby, but separate, listening to the toad bloviate to them. Walter's clerks sneaking in to grab some food while the main soldiers are away. Huddles of infantrymen here and there. And, of course, the musketeers sitting in one corner all to themselves

Where does Ba'Raknul sit?

Ba'Raknul

scans the room before slowly heading over towards the musketeers

as he gets close he nods to any that look up

Mind if I join you?

They look at Ba warily and say nary a word. After a while they get up and leave... Clearly they don't welcome the company of non-musketeers, which includes Ba, for the time being.

Ba'Raknul

sighs and quietly eats, listening to conversations and observing the different groups

Meanwhile, Biron makes his way to Agata's tent. As he goes to enter he is surprised! Loth jumps out, point his silvered sword at Biron's neck.

Loth realises who it is and puts the sword down before ushering Biron inside.

Biron

growls and goes for a grapple before stopping himself

snarls viciously towards Loth

Agata

calls from inside the tent Please do not snap at my corporal. And get in here.

Biron

his growls grow softer and he walks in

Biron find yourself in the familiar confines of Agata's tent, except it seems upturned. Papers cover the floor. Chest are left open and their contents scattered. A slash opens one side of the tent.

Biron

looks confused and looks around, but remains silent

Agata

I've been robbed, so it seems!

Biron

snarls in low, angry voice Thieves.

When?

Agata

rolls her eyes

No camp thief would be stupid enough to steal from me, corporal.

Biron

pauses a moment and thinks

The farm was attacked, people slaughtered. Boy is in Viscus's tent. Maybe same people?

Agata

nods That is unfortunate, but we have more important things to worry about.

Only papers are missing... This is the work of spies.

Here.

In the camp!

Biron

snarls

stops and considers his next words carefully

A sword was found at the premises. Might be from the group that did this?

He slowly, and slightly unwillingly, pulls sword out to show her.

Agata

raises her eyebrow

Biron

Or the boy may help.

Agata

That is one ugly sword, Corporal. But perhaps you are right.

Fortunately, whoever did this was disturbed before they could get away with anything important.

Loth walked in and scared them off.

Loth

stalks into the tent, nods at Agata, and starts searching the room carefully

Biron

sniffs and looks at Loth

Normally unreadable, even Biron can read the genuine concern furrowing Loth's normally smooth brow. If he's guilty of anything, he's hiding it well.

Biron

looks at Loth What did you see when you arrived? Clothes? Body type?

Loth

stares at Biron for a moment

Biron

I hunt, I kill. Tell me what you need of me.

Agata

I already debriefed Loth. Black cloaks, bearing the griffin on their arms.

They could be anyone in the camp.

Did you think it would be that easy?

While you're on patrol, keep your eyes and ears keen.

Find these spies and bring them.

Loth

holds up a hand to interrupt Agata

holds a feather in the other hand.

Agata

What is that?

A feather? Could be a clue. Or just a feather.

Biron

Do we know what they were after? and what has gone missing?

Agata

Do you think I recall every piece of paper. It matters not. Any scrap here could be nothing... Or could mean victory in the war.

This can't happen again.

Biron's stomach starts to growl in earnest, this is the longest he has spoken or gone without a meal!

Biron

bows head to Agata

I shall find them. Dead or alive ma’am?

Agata

Good grief... alive, man. At least at first.

Dismissed!

Biron

gives single nod and walks out

Before leaving to go elsewhere, he checks round the side of the tent that was slashed to look for footprints.

There are footprints, several, in fact a surfeit. Before Biron’s eyes a drunken soldier stumbles past, sinking her boots into the mud and obliterating the prints with a new set.

Biron

snarls

Biron swings by the mess. He gulps down the last straggles of stew, taking some time to chew on the heaviest scraps that sink to the bottom.

Biron

snarls and pours the food down, making a mess of his face

As he and Ba sit together they overhear some of the more veteran strugglers, hard men for whom hard stew is no hard work, muttering to each other.

Biron

stops and listens carefully

The men complain that it's been months, even years, since the front with the Commonwealth has moved. They say this grim war is a farce, and the Black Griffins might be camped here for many moons to come.

Biron

places his new sword on the table and casually opens the cloth

Ba'Raknul

looks at the blade properly for the first time

A concerned look crosses his face.

Biron

puts a finger up to quiet Ba

He looks around to see if the group notices the sword or if they say anything.

Ba'Raknul

isn’t sure why but he stays quiet and listens to the complaining of the men for a moment longer

The grim mercenaries around them seem too concerned with their own problems to pay any mind to a couple of wretched fetches. You hear murmurs of how Barnstable has been a waystation for Royalist forces for so long it's growing in size to compare to Dismas. Someone grumbles it even has its own thieves' council!

Another grumble that if the Commonwealth folk are so cursed as the priests claim, why do they still stand against the righteous forces of the Three Kings?

Perhaps these are just the complaints of folk who have seen too much war.

Biron

coughs and nods, slurps up the last of the food, and puts the sword back away

getting up We move.

Ba'Raknul

follows suit

Biron

leaves and walks at a fast pace back to healers tent. His eyes are ablaze, looking at every member they walk past

The night has drawn in now and the few mercenaries left in camp drink and gamble around campfires. Smoke chokes the air and embers fly into the night sky.

Ba'Raknul

moves to catch up

quietly whispers What’s got you so riled?

Biron

pauses a moment and looks around

in a very low whisper Spys.

Ba'Raknul

is still confused but keeps up and quiet

Biron and Ba find Orin still beside the infirmary tent.

Orin

Has drawn dozens of strange characters into the dirt around the tent with their dagger. They look quite similar to the ones etched into their bow.

Ba'Raknul

slowly approaches We need to get ready for our watch.

Orin

seems to be chatting quite merrily with themselves as Ba approaches, but they stop as soon as he speaks

Biron

looks around carefully to see if anyone’s around

Orin

I can't leave the boy.

Ba'Raknul

What can you do for him?

Orin

Make his killer suffer.

Ba'Raknul

We might find them out there. That may have been a scouting party for a bigger attack.

Biron

looks at Orin

We need to move.

looks to Ba

whispers to the pair Spies are inside the walls. Agata's tent has been robbed.

Orin

The Sparrow...

Biron

They're dressed as Black Griffin. A feather was found as well at the scene. They stole some papers.

snorts but continues to speak in a very hushed voice while keeping watch.

Ba'Raknul

looks concerned

All the more reason we should be out there.

Biron

I think whoever attacked the farm may be here.

Orin

jumps up

It's an opportunity to make her pay for fooling us!

Biron

looks at his new sword

And I have something of his I'd like to give back.

A thick, dark smile curves his mouth.

Ba'Raknul

The tracks lead the other way, though, correct?

He begins to move toward their tents to get ready.

Biron

No tracks.

Ba'Raknul

thinks deeply Okay then... We stay on guard… If we meet anyone out there: full suspicion.

Biron

nods

snarling Trust no one.

He holds up his battle axe in one hand and the hilt of the dark sword in the other.

Orin

looks guiltily at the infirmary

Okay.

Ba'Raknul

If one of us thinks something is up and doesn’t want to give it up we say... ‘Damn this is a long night.’ Got it?

Biron

gives a single nod and grunt

pauses

The boy. Should the tent be informed about anything--

pauses and shakes head...

No, don't worry.

…and goes to walk off.

Ba'Raknul

We can drop by on our way out and tell the physician to let no one but Agata take the boy. Orin could even tell him the orders?

looks at Orin.

Orin

Delighted to.

Ba'Raknul

nods and begins packing for the night ahead

Orin

tosses their dagger in the air and catches it again

They enter the tent.

The infirmary still stinks, but it’s much quieter than earlier. The infirm are either sleeping, dead, or a mixture of both. A tired looking Vicmas hurries up to Orin.

Vicmas

whispering What are you doing here? I thought i told you to get out!

Orin

Orders from Agata, dung beetle.

The boy doesn't leave this tent unless it's with Ba'Raknul, Biron, me, or Agata herself. Got it?

Vicmas

If it means you'll be off, yes, whatever.

Orin

grins and picks at the edge of their dagger while staring Vicmas hard in the eye

Promise?

Vicmas

Yes, yes.

Orin

turns abruptly and leaves

mumbling Nothing but a money grubbing coward, isn't he?

What do you do now?

Orin

storms off to their tent where they drop off their pack and grab a jug of moonshine. They head to where the fetches warm themselves at the fire and sits on the edge, brooding and listening.

Biron

walks around looking and listening to everyone in the camp

Ba'Raknul

Heads out into the night air, ready. He stretches and heads off to find Orin and Biron.

Biron

is walking by Ba as he comes out

Work.

Ba'Raknul

nods and looks for Orin.

You got torches? I know Orin has their Lantern but I've brought some extra just in case.

Biron

nods

I have torches.

Ba'Raknul

spots Orin and heads over

Let’s go, we need to relieve the day team and find out what they’ve seen today.

Orin

Right, I'll get my things.

They retrieve their weapons and pack from the tent and rejoin the others.

Ba'Raknul

nods and, with the group together, heads to the south gate

Biron’s talk of spies has got to him a little and he cant help but keep an eye for anyone taking an interest in them as they walk through.

Biron

still keeps an eye on every Griffin member he walks by

Scene IV: Night 1

The party finds their way to the south gate, past the mishmash and chaos of the camp follower tents. Many have closed for the day, but even more are just starting their commerce.

Beyond is the south gate, and the day patrol greet the party with dark stares and weary looks.

Soldier

About time you showed up! What time do you call this?

Ba'Raknul

nods and ignores the comment

Anything happen today?

Soldier

shrugs

Biron

growls

Soldier

The usual, broke up a couple of fights. Now we're off. Night!

Ba'Raknul

Where did you patrol?

Biron

grunts and doesn't acknowledge them.

Soldier

shouting over his shoulder as he walks away The usual, one patrol outside the barricade, another inside and so on, but do what you like. So long as the sergeants see you, it matters not.

Ba'Raknul

rolls his eyes as they walk away

Griffins’ finest ladies and gents.

Orin

grunts and takes a swig of their moonshine

Ba'Raknul

takes a look at the fence

Biron

looks around towards the lands outside

The wooden barricade stands fifteen feet tall and sturdy, the wood still fresh from being felled. Every so often a wooden tower stands sentry against the darkness beyond, although the two towers here seem unmanned.

South is the blasted mud and gorse of the front. If this ever was green, the grass and trees here have long gone.

Ba'Raknul

I think if me and Orin are on the inside, Biron outside keeping in sight of the fence though... Anything goes down, I can get over that no problem and Orin should have cover to shoot.

Biron

nods

More than happy.

Orin

watches all the nearby people for signs of malintent

Ba'Raknul

We lap together and, Biron, check back in at each gate... If you don’t come in we assume there’s a problem.

Biron

looks back to the two before he steps out of the fence.

in a low voice Trust no one.

Ba'Raknul

Other than that, holler if you need.

Biron

nods

As Biron looks outside the fence, he sees the deep ditches dug in front of the barricades. Another defence, but one that makes it hard to scale the walls. They have been dug all around the camp.

Biron

looks at Orin

If you find trouble, shoot an arrow towards my feet. Make it obvious it’s yours somehow.

Ba'Raknul

I have an arrow prepped for fire.

If you see a flaming arrow it’s us.

Orin

thinks for a second, then takes an arrow out and carves one of their odd symbols into the shaft and shows it to Biron.

A flaming arrow is a bit conspicuous, isn't it?

Biron

nods at Orin and Ba One of you, use one of them.

Ba'Raknul

I'll only use it in an emergency.

The party starts to patrol the perimeter of the camp.

Ba'Raknul

asks Orin to use their lantern for now

Orin

lights their lantern, keeping one eye on the wall as they go

The party passes through the fetch camp, where only the hardiest drinkers and gamblers remain. Otherwise, all seems quiet. They next pass the edges of the east camp. This is where the newer recruits tend to bunk. For this reason it is the rowdiest and most chaotic area of the camp. Drinking and games go on long into the night.

Ba'Raknul

scans the new recruits for anyone acting out of place

Despite the rowdy noise coming from the thicket of tents and campfires, Ba sees nothing untoward. Well, there a couple of mercenaries drunkenly throwing punches at one another before falling about each other kissing and... well. Another man squats in front of a tent, relieving himself inside.

But no enemy soldiers.

Ba'Raknul

looks over at the man relieving himself and decides to leave it as more pressing issues

Ba shakes his head and moves on.

Biron

listens to the breeze and glares into the darkness. His torch held high

The party passes the chaos of the east camp and into the open space of the training ground.

Ba'Raknul

heads into the north gate, looking for Biron

Biron

leans against the gate posts

Ba’Raknul

Anything?

Biron

grunts once and shakes head

The party is interrupted by some shouting.

Biron

pulls out his axe

A group of soldiers stands a ways away bearing torches. They don’t look like mercenaries.

Biron

snarls and readies himself, shield up and axe out wide

Ba'Raknul

quickly looks up and shouts to the man on guard

Who are those men… Did they come in here?

The guard ignores Ba, but he is quite a distance away at the moment.

Ba'Raknul

nods at Biron

Orin, keep us covered and make sure no one else unknown enters.

Biron, let’s go see who they are.

Orin

nods and holds back, looking for a good shadow to hide in

Biron

snarls and nods

pauses

Trust no one.

Ba'Raknul

takes off sprinting towards the men

Biron

runs behind him, however keeping an eye on the gate behind him

As Ba and Biron approach, they see the men and women gathered here bear the arms of the Second King, Beyr.

Ba'Raknul

whispers to Biron No aggression, they're king’s men.

They surround two young looking mercenaries who they are questioning. Twins, even!

Bailiff

When did you last visit, Dismas? Do you have a dog?

Biron

snarls

Here

I don't know what you're talking about, we've been 'ere...

Gere

Aven't we?

Bailiff

By order of the king and his bailiffs, answer honestly.

Biron

rolls his eyes when he hears the discussion and just looks at back of Ba disapprovingly

Ba'Raknul

approaches with confidence

Excuse me gentlemen… Can we help?

As one, they all turn round to face Ba. One of the group steps forward, a woman on crutches. This gruff, burly woman sports a large, thick scar running from her left eye and down her throat. It looks as though she's never smiled in her life.

Ba'Raknul

looks her in the face

Helia

I am Sergeant Helia of the King's Bailiffs. And I have a warrant for traitors…

brandishes a florid parchment filled with official looking legal text

Ba'Raknul

Then surely you can organise a proper time and place to talk to suspects?

Something I'm sure you could take up officially, instead of bullying fresh faced mercs.

To be continued...