Grisly Eye Games

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...

Folk Variant

This variant attempts to do away with the problematic tropes of traditional, fantasy races. Instead, "innate" characteristics that were determined by your race are now determined by your folk and background:

A folk is a group of peoples united by a common culture. Yet within that culture many exceptions and variations exists. Like a D&D race, a single folk contains multitudes: subcultures, kingdoms, factions, clans, tribes, courts or religious groups.

More important is your background. In this variant your background now determines your initial ability score increase. It also bestows a number of proficiencies and utility features that typically replace the utility skill feats, such as the Actor feat. This makes backgrounds receptacles of many of the ribbon or utility features or feats, allowing your to make more strategic choices for your characters, while still customising them.

When creating your character, replace step 1 with choosing a background and a folk for your character. An example background and folk are given below:

Medieval workers. Created by Beaunier and Mifliez, published on Magasin Pittoresque, Paris, 1844.

Folk: Common Folk

The most numerous peoples of the world, the men and women of the cities and rural areas. They till the fields, collect taxes, and wage wars upon one another. To the other folk this seems mundane, boring, even pointless. But none can deny the common folk have spread across the land, while older folk start to fade away.

Age.
Common folk reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Alignment.
Common folk tend toward no particular alignment. The best and the worst are found among them.
Size.
Common folk vary widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Speed.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Versatile.
You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice and you can increase one of your ability scores by 1.

Background: Entertainer

You thrive in front of an audience. You know how to entrance them, entertain them, and even inspire them. Your poetics can stir the hearts of those who hear you, awakening grief or joy, laughter or anger. Your music raises their spirits or captures their sorrow. Your dance steps captivate, your humor cuts to the quick. Whatever techniques you use, your art is your life.

Ability Score Adjustment.
You Charisma increases by 2, and your Dexterity increases by 1.
Skill Proficiencies.
You gain proficiency with the Performance skill.
Equipment.
A musical instrument (one of your choice), the favor of an admirer (love letter, lock of hair, or trinket), a costume, and a pouch containing 15 gp.
Speciality.
You have a talent for a particular kind of entertainment. Choose one of the three specialities presented below or one from another source.

Speciality: Mummer

You are an actor in a troupe. Skilled at mimicry and improvisation, you gain the following benefits:

Disguise Expertise.
You gain proficiency with a disguise kit. You add double your proficiency bonus to checks you make with it.
Mimicry.
You can mimic the speech of another person or the sounds made by other creatures. You must have heard the person speaking, or heard the creature make the sound, for at least 1 minute. A successful Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked.

Speciality: Player

You are a travelling minstrel. a mischievous troubadour or street player. Your skill with your chosen instrument gives you the following benefits:

Instrument Expertise.
You gain proficiency with one type of musical instrument. You add double your proficiency bonus to checks you make with it.
Distracting Melody.
While playing a musical instrument you are proficient with, you can try to distract one humanoid you can see who can see and hear you. Make a Charisma (Performance) check contested by the humanoid’s Wisdom (Insight) check. If your check succeeds, you grab the humanoid’s attention enough that it makes Wisdom (Perception) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks with disadvantage until you stop performing.

Speciality: Singer

You have been gifted with a talented singing voice and make your living, perhaps by singing bawdy rhymes in taverns or sad ballads in noble courts. You gain the following benefits:

Singing Expertise.
When singing you add double your proficiency bonus to checks you make with the Performance skill.
A Song For Every Occasion.
Once you hear a song you never forget it, and can recall and sing it from memory.
Minstrel Lore.
Ancient lore is often passed down through song, and you know more songs than anyone else you know. When making an Intelligence (Religion) or Intelligence (History) check you can instead chose spend 10 minutes singing an appropriate song you recall from your extensive repertoire of rhymes and ballads. When you finish you can make a Performance check instead. You can only do this once per short rest.

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 31)

This is the second 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!

Preview of Farm Map
Scene II: Lively Farm (Continued)

When we last left our nefarious band of fetches, they had investigated the Lively family's farm only to find it empty and in disarray. As they investigated they were set upon by a pack of wolves brought out of the deep woods by the ensuing war and easy pickings of fresh meat.

We join them as the party defend themselves.

Biron

looks up to the air and growls, readying his axe

Listen, something’s happening.

Ba’Raknul

pricks his ears up

Biron

steps out over the rubble of the tumbled down wall and readies himself

Biron spies a couple of wolves emerging from the trees, joined by another pair circling around the farm house. They run toward him, snarling viciously.

Meanwhile, Orin spies six more wolves moving towards the front of the house. Four start to tear at the front door and windows, sensing Ba within. The other two jump and scratch at the base of the tree, eager to get at Orin's perch.

Biron

snarls back at them

Biron swipes as the wolves leap toward him, but it jumps out the way. Clearly they are well versed in avoiding axe blows!

The pack seem particularly organised as they swarm around Biron. While one beast feints, another uses the distraction to bite deep into his forearms. The other three creatures take the opportunity to pull at the flesh of Biron's arms and legs for a total of 22 piercing damage.

They attempt to pull Biron down so they can get at his more vulnerable spots but he pulls free from their bites and remains standing.

Biron

roars in what seems like anger, the pain shredding through his body

Meanwhile the wolves at the door - so to speak - are making short work of the brittle wood and Ba can already see the muzzles of the creatures snapping and chomping through breaks. Another round and they'll be through!

Ba'Raknul

sees the wolves’ maws baying at the door of the farmhouse and whistles out to them

COME ON PUPS LETS PLAY!

Moves backwards towards Orin and then, focusing his ki, bursts strength into his legs. With two bounds he jumps to the roof of the house and then, loosing an arrow at one of wolves attacking Biron, leaps across to the barn roof.

Such a graceful move is rewarded with a shot so close it catches some of the fur off one of the ravening beasts, but doesn't pierce it.

Orin

shifts their bow and readied arrow to one hand, and climbs a little higher for safety. They then lean against the branch and release an arrow at the nastiest looking wolf at Biron's legs.

The arrow strikes the creature in the side, a heavy blow that sends it flying, landing it several feet away. It lies still on the ground.

Biron

With a blood curdling scream of anger, he reaches for his axe. But, looking over the wolves, Biron instead makes a mighty leap to the roof behind him.

With an evil smile he looks down at the dogs and pulls out a javelin, awaiting his next turn.

Ba'Raknul

seeing Biron’s giant leap calls out

You've got the makings of a monk in you! Now be careful guys, we can take them from here.

The wolves left behind aren't waiting around, they start jumping up at Biron.

Biron

in a low, hushed growled voice

Come get me, bitches.

It's tricky on four paws, but they're surprisingly nimble and nearly make it. You might not be so lucky next time.

The four wolves at the front of the farmhouse break through the door and follow Ba to the barn. They eagerly collect beneath Ba's perch, jumping up to get at his warm flesh.

Meanwhile, two wolves are circling Orin's tree, snarling and looking at them with hungry eyes.

Ba'Raknul

reaches into his backpack and pulls out a flask of oil

He sets it down and holds it with his foot then looses an arrow at one of the wolves trying to get at Biron.

Ba'Raknul catches a creature with an arrow in the hind quarters. Its whimpers are very gratifying.

Ba'Raknul

calls out Orin! Got any fire?

motions to the bottle of oil perched over the baying wolves

Orin

not registering Ba’s request over the adrenaline pumping through their veins, they draw another arrow and shoot at the biggest wolf jumping at Biron.

This arrow strikes a wolf right in its maw, sending it flying and embedding its head in the ground.

Orin

laughs and shouts If you two don't do something soon, you'll get rather far behind!

Biron

sees the two dead wolves on the floor and smiles, puts the javelin away, and then moves to hold his shield with two hands while waiting for next wolf to jump

roars as the wolf steps and slams his shield into the face of the wolf to throw him back down

The creature goes flying, landing painfully on its side, but it's soon back up on its feet snarling and jumping to get at Biron again.

Biron

gives a throaty laugh

Meanwhile, the wolves at the base of Ba's perch have discovered that the barn isn't as solid as it looks. They are busy digging at the foundations and pulling at the loose boards.

The barn is beginning to shake fearfully!

Ba'Raknul

seeing that Orin will not be providing the fire he looks down at the wolves, gets a torch, lights it and then one after another drops the flask slowly followed by the torch then moves to the other side of the structure.

The oil lights up the grass under a wolf, causing its under-carriage to catch fire. All four of the creatures stop what their doing and leap away, clearly fearful of the blaze!

Biron

sees the wolves react to the fire

Orin

nocks another arrow and, grinning, shoots it at the healthier of Biron's two wolves

This time the arrow slashes the creature’s bowels, sending guts onto the ground. The creature runs off into the woods, presumably to die alone.

Biron

looks at Orin and gives a single nod, then grunts

Ba'Raknul

laughs Orin, you're on fire.... GET IT!

Orin

Whoops! Fish in a barrel!

Biron

picks up a javelin and hurls it at the wolf that he threw off the roof

The javelin smashes the creature in the chest, sending ribs and blood flying!

Meanwhile, you all notice that the barn itself has caught light and is now ablaze! The fire appears to be worrying the wolves and as one they turn tail and disappear into the woods.

Then you hear a scream from within the barn; someone is inside!

Biron

looks up at the noise

Ba! Someone's inside!

Ba'Raknul

shouts to the group Deal with the fire... I'll find them.

He then rushes to the nearest hole or soft point in the roof and dives through.

Ba finds himself in the smoky interior of the burning barn. It's difficult to see anything at all.

Ba'Raknul

looks around calling out HELLO, COME TO ME IF YOU CAN!

He pulls his banana up to cover his face from smoke.

Ba stumbles about in the barn, but the black smoke is becoming impenetrable. You hear what sounds like coughing coming from somewhere in the rear of the barn but cannot say exactly where.

Ba'Raknul

heads in that direction best he can

Meanwhile, outside…

Biron

grunts and looks at the fire

jumps down and runs to the fire, looking for a way to quench it

calls to Orin Help Ba! I don’t know what to do with the fire.

Orin

swings out of the tree and dashes to the far side of the building, looking for another door

They find a small door at the rear of the barn, on the side farthest from the farmhouse.

Orin

swings it open and shouts Come to my voice! There's a way out, here!

Before Orin lies a small, unconscious form lying in the straw. It seems impossibly pale in the black smoke, almost entirely naked. There is something not quite right about the way it’s lying down.

Orin

grabs the form and drags it 15ft out of the barn

Ba finally finds his way to the same area of the barn, drawn by the light from outside.

Biron

runs around the building trying to hear where people are, axe ready if needed

The form at Orin’s feet appears to be the body of a boy, no more than 11 or 12 summers. Nearly unconscious, you can see why he looked odd: he's missing his right arm! It has been cut clean off at the shoulder, with almost butcher-like precision.

He coughs black smoke into the clear air, gulping fresh air down.

Biron

looks at the kid suspiciously and then turns to the burning barn

Ba'Raknul

runs up and scoops up the child

The boy is unconcious. In all your years on the battlefield you've not seen so precise a cut, even from many veteran surgeons. He needs to be taken to a physician soon.

Ba'Raknul

Biron do we think we can knock the burning bit down and away so the rest doesn’t go up, or is it too late?

Biron

looks at the building again

The barn is now completely alight, the roasting hot air beating against your brows.

Biron

grunts, visibly looking like he wants to go and fight the fire, but unsure how It’s most of the south half now. I can’t do that much.

Orin

pulls their spare shirt from their bag and makes a bandage from the whole thing

Do you think there are any medics left at camp?

Ba'Raknul

If there aren’t any we can watch him... but Agata knew these people, she'll want to know.

Orin

Let's get him to the house and clean him up, see if we can get some water in him, then?

Ba'Raknul

looks around If we can get some sticks and a jacket or something, we can make a stretcher to keep him better protected.

Biron

grunts disapprovingly but nods

walks up to the edge and listens to the wood around him, keeping an eye out for movement

The woods seems still, a breeze blows across the grass beyond. You see what looks like the foundations of what was once a tower and... something glints in the grass beyond. Something metal.

Biron

snarls On guard!

Ba'Raknul

snaps his head up and moves his hand to his longbow

What is it?

Biron

draws his might battleaxe

Orin, keep eye on me.

Orin

nods

Biron

crouches low but moves forwards quickly to the glint of metal, axe ready to swing at any given person

Orin

knocks an arrow, waiting

As you approach, you see blood is splattered about the grass but otherwise there is no sign of life. You see there is a weapon lying in the long grass, a longsword made of strange metal, black as though caked in soot. A metal that looks... familiar.

The blade itself is strange, crudely forged yet impossibly sharp. It bears a sigil on the hilt: a half-lidded eye.

Biron

narls and stares into the wood, looks for signs of figures that moved through here puts a cloth over the the sword and picks it up, then raises his hand to call Orin over

Orin

walks over to Biron, eyeing the woods warily

What are you doing? We should make sure the boy lives.

Biron

Shh. Look, a swords been left… with an etching. Help me look to see if we can find anything.

Orin

As if we haven't made enough noise already?

Biron

passes the sword to Orin and starts looking

Biron can see there are tracks leading into the thick woods to the north.

Orin

peers at the etching on the sword, wondering what it means

As Orin brings the sword closer they hear a strange sound, like a low hum that seems come from inside their head! They recoil slightly.

Orin

looks over their shoulder at Biron

Mean anything to you?

Ba'Raknul

starts putting a makeshift stretcher together

calls out If it’s not an immediate threat we need to go… with this we can go a bit faster and we'll keep a look out. The camp isn’t too far.

Biron

snarls in a hushed voice Too much land to cover.

looks and sniffs the air around

Orin

sighs We'll take this with us. Let's go.

walks away without looking after Biron

Biron

stands still, listening and staring intently into the forest ahead

Ba'Raknul

places the child carefully on the stretcher and gently ties him down

Okay if we take a side each and one on watch.. Orin, if you don’t mind being look out?

Orin

Of course

Ba'Raknul

gets in front of the stretcher and waits for Biron

Biron

snarls angrily and paces back to the group

under his breath Also a rotting kid to look after.

He picks up the other side of the stretcher but stays quiet at all times, now listening and on alert.

Orin

still with their arrow clenched against the grip of their bow, they glare at Biron

Ba'Raknul

grabbing the front end Okay Quick and quiet... Orin, give it a 25 ft lead.

Orin

nods and walks ahead toward the camp

You make your way through the dark woods back to camp, leaving the burning pyre of the Lively's farm behind you. The woods seem a good deal more sinister than on your trip here. You hear the sound of wolves howling in the distance as dusk falls!

Suddenly, the boy starts to shake violently!

Orin

whispers loudly from ahead What's wrong?

Ba'Raknul

calls out Hold a sec.

Biron

stops and pulls out his axe, looking around him

Ba has no idea as the boy starts to froth at the mouth! His eyes open and they roll up into his head.

Ba'Raknul

I don’t know what to do. We can just push on hopefully we make it.

lies him on his side so he doesn’t choke

Biron

stares at the kid, drops his axe, rolls him over, smacks on his back a couple times, and attempts to give him water

checks the boy for fever.

Biron's seen this before; a child suffered from shakes like these in his village. He prepares a crude remedy which soon stops the shakes, but the boy looks even paler than before... he does not have long!

Ba'Raknul

breathes a sigh of relief Lets go, quick.

Orin

nods and picks up the pace

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene III: The Infirmary

The group makes it back to camp by nightfall and are waved through by the mercenaries on guard at the North Gate. They quickly make their way to the infirmary, which is manned this evening by Vicmas.

This impossibly short man bears what appears to be a monks tonsure on his head.

Orin

shouts A healer! Quick, a healer as ordered by Sergeant Agata!

Biron

grunts

Vicmas

A moment please.

bars the way, smiling with his mouth only, as he looks suspiciously at the boy.

My skills are for the company only. Is this boy a mercenary?

Orin

Sgt Agata will have your head if you don't heal him. We've had orders to retrieve him!

Biron

walks to the physician and speaks slowly with a cold voice

Deal with the kid, or I'll be dealing with you.

Ba'Raknul

He was attacked by unknown forces on our side of the line... We need him to find out information about who did this.

Vicmas

crosses his arms

I don't care if Captain Larke himself ordered it. No medical aid for non-fighters. Unless you pay!

Orin

You greedy vagrant!

Biron

grunts aggressively

Looks like he'll die. Better tell Agata.

Vicmas

smiles wanly

Biron

goes to walk off

Ba'Raknul

looks at Biron Can you fix the kid without the Quack?

Do either of you know enough about medicine? I'll deal with the medic and take what’s coming to me if you can save the kid.

Orin

their face begins to turn red and their mouth becomes a thin angry line

One last chance, weasel...

Biron

He’s dead. Seen it before.

Vicmas

Ten gold pieces or you can tip him in the lime pit with the rest of the dead.

Biron

If the medic doesn't do his job. The boy dies.

Orin

takes a step closer to Vicmas putting a hand on the dagger in their belt

How much?

Biron

looks at Orin Do you still have that sword?

Vicmas

smiles wide, his eyes serious

The medicines to heal him cost gold, medicines that would otherwise go to your brothers-and-sisters-in-arms.

Ba'Raknul

offers out 4gp and looks to the others

It’s either this or he becomes a new recruit and I don’t wanna force that on anyone.

Orin

Fuck the fuckers in arms.

takes another angry step forward

Biron

looks at the dying boy, then looks at the physician, then looks at Ba, then looks at Orin, then looks away

Orin

their knuckles have gone white over their dagger handle

Vicmas

smiles Language!

Biron

looks down and shakes his head, stepping to the healer

Orin, Ba. Leave us.

Orin

draws their dagger

What for?

Biron

stands tall and silent… he doesn’t look away

Leave us.

Ba'Raknul

smiles We're a team... We're all in.

Vicmas

finally stops smiling

Biron

in a cold voice to the others Leave us.

Vicmas

If you harm me, you'll have a court-martial to answer for!

Orin

shrugs

Ba'Raknul

steps back up to the door but doesn’t leave

Biron

his voice again gets darker Leave.

Ba'Raknul

faces out the door

Vicmas

looks coldly at the barbarian

And if I'm dead... so dies the boy. For certain!

Orin

You want coin so badly, I'll be happy to pour them on your grave. As many as you like.

Biron

stares at Vicmas dead in the eye with no emotion on his face

Vicmas

turns to Orin I'm under orders too, and these are mine!

Ba'Raknul

What if we owed you a favour?

Biron

with one arm grabs the Vicmas by the scruff his tunic and pulls him nose to nose

Ba’Raknul

runs to get between the two men

Vicmas

GUA--

Ba’Raknul

puts a hand on each of them Okay, I see now you’re a man of principle. We’ll pay. We don’t actually want to hurt you.

Vicmas

looking at Biron Is that so?

Ba’Raknul

looks Biron in the eye and gently pushes him away

Biron

steps back a little and growls

Orin

Are you joking?

Ba’Raknul

putting a hand in Orin’s way and looking serious

Stand down, private.

Orin

doesn’t move

Vicmas

puts his empty hand out toward Ba

Well?

Ba’Raknul

gives him the 10gp

You’ll heal the boy?

Vicmas

pockets the money and steps aside to adjust his shirt

He’ll receive the same treatment any of you would.

Orin

That’s not very comforting.

Vicmas

shrugs

To be continued...

Flawed Magic Items

This art is by Daniel F. Walthall, available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

In this variant, the magic that enchants most magical items is tainted in some way. These flawed magic items give a penalty to creatures who use them. This rule is for low magic campaigns where magical items are rare, and makes the use of magical items a more strategic choice.

Flawed magic items are not considered cursed: a creature can identify a magic item’s flaws in the same way they can identify it's other properties. Attunement with flawed magic items can also be ended normally.

For example:

Toxic potion of healing

Potion, common

You regain 2d4 + 2 hit points when you drink this potion. You must also succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage and become poisoned. At the end of each of your turns, you can repeat the saving throw. If you succeed the poison wears off. The potion’s red liquid glimmers when agitated, with strange green swirls.

Magic Armor or Weapon Flaw Table
d12 Flaw
1-3 Weakening. While you wield or wear this item you are also weakened. Weakened creatures count as one size smaller when determining their carrying capacity and the weight they can push, drag, or lift and have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons.
4-5 Charged. This item is unnaturally charged, sending tingling electric charges across your body. While you wield or wear this item you are vulnerable to lightening damage.
6-7 Cold. While you wield or wear this item you feel unnaturally cold and you are vulnerable to cold damage.
7-8 Hot. While you wield or wear this item you feel unnaturally warm and you are vulnerable to fire damage.
9-10 Misfortunate. While you wield or wear this item you make all saving throws with disadvantage.
11 Draining. While you wield or wear this item you also gain a level of exhaustion. If you are wielding or wearing this item after a long rest, you gain a level of exhaustion. If you stop wielding or wearing this item you lose this level of exhaustion.
12 No Flaw. This item is flawless and otherwise behaves as described.
Potions Flaw Table
d10 Flaw
1-3 Hallucinogenic. When you drink this potion you also start to hallucinate a nightmarish creature. The DM determines what you hallucinate and where the hallucination appears (normally a hostile creature you can see). You must succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or you become frightened for 1 minute. While frightened by this potion, you must take the Dash action and move away from the hallucination by the safest available route on each of your turns, unless there is nowhere to move. At the end of each of your turns, you can repeat the saving throw. If you succeed you stop hallucinating and are no longer frightened.
4-5 Toxic. When you drink this potion you also must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage and become poisoned for 1 minute. At the end of each of your turns, you can repeat the saving throw. If you succeed the poison wears off.
6-7 Weakening. When you drink this potion you must also succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or become weakened for 1 minute. While weakened you count as one size smaller when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift and you have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons. At the end of each of your turns, you can repeat the saving throw. If you succeed, you are no longer weakened.
8-9 Draining. When you drink this potion you also gain a level of exhaustion.
10 No Flaw. This potion is flawless and otherwise behaves as described.

Black Griffin Campaign Diary (Session 30)

This is the first 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!

Camp Patrol Act I

After escaping the clutches of Royalist interrogators, our band of misfit fetches find their way back to the Black Griffin Encampment and spend a week unwinding.

However, as you relax the rest of the camp is gearing up. The Company's Royalist clients are gathering forces for a push against the Commonwealth.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene I: The Debriefing

You awaken the next morn, ready to report to Agata for your debriefing.

Ba'Raknul

wakes early enough to finish off his new scar… added to the scars he already has, then heads over to Agata's tent

Orin

doesn't move or make a sound from within their tent

Biron

rolls outta bed and stretches, gets his gear and, with no words, heads straight to Agata's tent

The camp is restless as the regulars, artillery and officers prepare to move out. About you men and women are packing equipment, loading carts and moving heavy boxes of weapons.

Biron

arrives outside Agata's tent, stands up straight and awaits for the other arrivals

Ba'Raknul

walks by Orin’s tent

shouts You don't want the whipping they give for not showing up... Trust me it hurts.

Orin

hoarsely Stop yelling at me.

Ba'Raknul

Can’t say I didn’t warn you and carries on

Biron

gives single grunt of acknowledgement as Ba arrives but says nothing

Orin

Rolls out of bed still wearing their clothes and boots. They’re confused for a second but decide it's lucky since they don't have to get dressed. Stumbling out of their tent, they try to tuck in their shirt but somehow manage to only make it worse. They circle themself like a dog chasing its tail, trying to figure out what's gone wrong.

Loth

ducks out of Agata's tent, giving Ba and Biron a suspicious eye

nods his head, as though to ask what you want

Orin

stumbles up behind Ba and Biron, wavering and blocking out the sunlight with an arm

Ba'Raknul

nods We're here to report to Agata.

Biron

rolls his eyes when he sees Orin but still says nothing

Loth

rolls his eyes and opens the tent for you to enter

Ba'Raknul

nods again Thanks

enters

Loth

gives Orin a look of absolute contempt as they pass, his eyes flickering as though he can see something dancing about them

Biron

grunts towards Corporal Loth and follows Ba, steps into Agata's tent and stands up straight and in military style in front of her desk

You enter the now familiar and slightly comforting gloomy and smoke filled interior of Agata's tent.

Agata

turns to you all.

What

The

Fuck

Happened in Dismas?

Orin

giggles

Ba'Raknul

We were infiltrated shooting Orin a look

Biron

Looks angrily at Orin. Then looks at Ba but stays silent.

Orin

...by a smelly woman.

Ba'Raknul

Corporal Linus was dead before we even arrived.

Agata

He's dead?! How?

Orin

The smelly woman!

Ba'Raknul

Stabbed to death by the Sparrow.

Agata

Ah, yes, the Sparrow...

Orin:

She wrote me a letter...

pats their pockets looking for it, only to realise it was left in the tent

Agata

starts sorting through her paperwork, before fishing out a piece of paper and handing it to Ba

Take a look at the description of the three individuals in this warrant and tell me... do they remind you of anyone?

Ba'Raknul

takes it and begins reading

Agata

It is a warrant for high treason for three shady individuals and a dog... sound familiar?

Ba'Raknul

eyes widen at the DOG

Orin

tries to hide a giggle behind their sleeve

Ba'Raknul

River was a traitor

Orin

whips around to look at Ba

Don't you dare!

Ba'Raknul

shows the piece of paper to Orin

Biron

grunts but still stands still

Orin

This is Rothaniel's nonsense.

Ba'Raknul

What?

Orin

He never believed us.

turns back to Agata

We appealed to him for help but Ba insisted on secrecy. So he never believed who we are.

Agata

I think you better start from the beginning and this better be good or I'll have you executed myself!

Orin

That silly piece of paper is the result.

Ba'Raknul

realises his mistake and sighs

So we went to a royal guard we met for aid when we realise we were compromised.

Biron

looks at Ba slightly angry about the whole situation at Dismas

Ba'Raknul

He then asked for names of you and people in the camp so I said no... they were transporting us somewhere when the Commonwealth attacked and we escaped.

Not before saving Rothaniel's life and letting him walk home alive

Biron

Should have killed him.

Orin

And he STILL thought we were traitors.

Agata

And who exactly is Rothaniel?

Orin

We should've shaved more than his moustache...

Ba'Raknul

Rothaniel, ‘King’s Finest Shot’ is how he introduced himself.

Agata

YOU SHAVED HIS MUSTACHE?!?

Ba'Raknul

So as not to be recognised.

Orin

turns red, not sure whether to laugh or run away

Ba'Raknul

We had a while to travel with him as a captive to be sure we were safe.

Orin

He didn't have to be a captive, only he refused to cooperate.

Ba'Raknul

I had hoped he would help us escape the city and I was wrong. That is on me.

Agata

rubs the bridge of her nose and sighs heavily

You don't make my job easy.

Orin

He was going to execute us then and there if I hadn't talked him out of it. Instead he drove us into the forest to see someone else, when we were ambushed by the Commonwealth.

Ba'Raknul

Yes they have a base in the forest somewhere, it’s very secretive.

Biron

listening to his own story the others were saying rolls his own eyes and grunts a little in disbelief

Ba'Raknul

In the Kings Wood.

Agata

picks up the warrant Fortunately for you, I don't believe the three of you have the wits for high treason. I can handle this but... you need to tell me everything you know about the Sparrow.

Orin

She was smelly, and also thought we were idiots... or at least too polite for our own good.

Agata

turns to Orin She may well be right on that score.

Ba'Raknul

They were masters of disguise... I thought at one point that Linus had turned on us but I never thought it was someone undercover.

Agata

Did any of you get a look at them out of disguise?

Orin

cringes at the idea

Ba'Raknul

They took full advantage of the lack of communication and organisation in our ranks. And no.

Agata

It's rather your job to think on your feet in the field, and that's a shame. A physical description would set us all up for life. The Royalists pay dearly for any information.

Ba'Raknul

I will catch them.

Orin

I suspected them at first, but they always seemed to check out. I won't make that mistake again.

Agata

nods, smiling a little More importantly, why did the Sparrow let you live?

Orin

blushes

Ba'Raknul

Maybe she underestimates us.

Biron

snarls Maybe she saw us as useless.

Orin

I thought the note suggested she took a liking to us. We were kind to one of her compatriots.

Biron

Who we were sent to kill.

Orin

clears their throat Because we thought he was aiding us and was under pressure to work with the Commonwealth.

Biron

growls and blows some air out then again goes back to being quiet

Orin

He was just a child.

Agata

sits back down, pulls out her pipe, lights it and puffs heavily as she ponders what you have to say

It has come down from above from our... clients... that our focus should be on uncovering the Sparrow and her network of spies, The Flock.

They have agents everywhere... probably even in this camp.

Orin

looks to the left and right quickly and nearly loses their balance

Biron

snarls again

Agata

The Royalists would pay dearly for an alive agent they could interrogate... but it would be in our interests to interrogate any such individual ourselves, first.

You understand?

Ba'Raknul

nods

looks at Biron That means no killing.

Agata

picks up another piece of paper

Agata

I see you've signed up for patrol duty. At least you can't get into too much trouble doing that.

Biron

snarls

Ba'Raknul

What’s our route?

Agata

Patrol the perimeter. You'll be sharing duties with another patrol. They'll be on day shift, you'll be on the night shift but... before you do that I need you to run an errand.

There is a farm nearby, a family lives there. The Livelys. They provide us with fruit and vegetables but we haven't had a supply from them in a while.

Life is dangerous for commoners this close to the frontlines. I want to make sure... they're OK.

Understood?

Ba'Raknul

nods

Biron

gives a single grunt and nods

Agata

Good. You are dismissed.

Orin

rolls an Insight check: 5

Agata

drily And try not to commit any more treason.

Ba'Raknul

bows and leaves, waiting for the others outside the tent

Biron

follows Ba and walks out silently

Ba'Raknul

waits for Orin to exit before beginning to walk back to his tent

Orin

wringing their hands Erm... still no chance I might...

Agata

Dismissed, private.

Orin

Right... okay.

turns and walks out of the tent

The party meet outside Agata’s tent to discuss their next move.

Ba'Raknul

We should gather our things... if we are on night watch we'll need lamps... do we have enough oil?

Biron

nod We need more.

Ba'Raknul

Orin didn’t you say you had lamps?

Orin

One hooded lamp.

Ba'Raknul

Does it need oil?

Orin

Yes, I've got two flasks.

Ba'Raknul

Okay... also do we need anything to go check out this farm?

Biron

Torches probably most useful.

Orin

We need a way to get in there without somebody seeing us from a mile away...

Ba'Raknul

Okay let’s go get torches and some oil. Could we camouflage? I have a disguise kit in my tent?

Biron

rolls his eyes and angrily snarls

What’s with all the hiding? That’s what started the mess in Dismas!

Ba'Raknul

Incase it’s something bad.

Orin

What if there's a Flock agent hiding in there?

Biron

Then I think three random people, disguised or not, will not be welcome.

Orin

They'll shoot us down before we can even see them knocking the arrows.

Ba'Raknul

Or if they've turned... a sneaky look will always help.

Biron

snarls

Ba'Raknul

Not disguised.... camouflage... maybe for one or two of us will help us get an early look.

Orin

If there's an orchard or a crop of sweetcorn, we should be able to get pretty close without being seen.

Ba'Raknul

looks at Orin Can you use a disguise kit?

Orin

Well, sure? But I'm no expert.

Ba'Raknul

It’s on the edge of the forest.. we could approach from that side... and yeah it’s green and brown circles no expert needed.

If it’s in the woods we should have cover to approach.

Biron

growls

Ba'Raknul

turns and heads towards the trader tents

I’m going to get some oil and torches. Meet me by the gate if you need to do something.

Orin

stumbles over to their tent to pack their things

Biron

already packed, moves towards the gate and waits for the group

Ba'Raknul makes his way south through the camp, past the abandoned manor house the Captain Larke commandeered as his quarters, to the pathway southwards that exits the camp.

Here are the camp followers: traders hollering their prices, suspicious foods sizzling on fires, and catamites making flattering remarks.

What are you looking for here?

Ba'Raknul

looks around for a general goods trader

You see a meek looking man, quite out of place, selling such goods.

Ba'Raknul

heads over and bows Hello, Nice to meet you.

The trader

nervously greets you How may I help you... sir?

visibly gulps at your scars

Ba'Raknul

notices the nervousness of the man and smiles widely

I need three flasks of oil and ten torches, please.

The trader

stutters I have the torches, but only two flasks of oil sir.... yours... for three silver pieces...

Ba'Raknul

Three silver per bottle? And how much for the torches?

realises his blunder Oh.

My man, I have been in Dismas too long it seems. hands over three silver pieces

The trader

eagerly takes your money, hurriedly handing the items over to you, clearly petrified and only too glad to be done with your business

Ba'Raknul

leans in close to the man and eyes him looking for hint of lies and knowing he’s freaking him out asks quietly

Do you have anything interesting?

The trader

blanches Interesting...?

Ba'Raknul

Cool... deadly... wonderful... you're clearly a well travelled man.

Trader

is fairly shaking in his boots now

No... sir... I'm a gods fearing man, live by the very word of the Dictum, sir.

Ba'Raknul

eyes him deeply for a moment longer before smiling again

Have a wonderful day.

walks to the gate to meet Orin and Biron

Biron

Time to go.

Orin

Orin is waiting at the gate... sweaty and pale, but ready to go.

Preview of Farm Map
Scene II: Lively Farm

You set off for the Livelys' farm, just as your compatriots set off for the great push. With grim determination, phalanxes of mercenaries march northward.

You wave goodbye as they pass and they wave back, uncertainly. Perhaps this will be the last you will see of many of them, you ponder as you enter the sparse woods and trek towards the farm.

The weather is grey, and turns into a light drizzle, not entirely unpleasant, cool even, especially for Orin.

As you near the farm it is lunch and you all feel a great hunger.

What do you do?

Biron

grunts Are we there yet, I need to eat something.

Ba' Raknul

pauses a moment and scans around

Maybe we should break here... eat and continue more stealthily.

Orin

gives the rest an embarrassed look, since they have been ploughing through rations while they walked

Ba' Raknul

chuckles You can keep watch then.

Orin

Sure.

Biron

stops and starts to make camp

Orin

watches Biron Probably not a good idea to light a fire, though?

Ba'Raknul

No we should stick to cold rations" as he sits down and starts eating. We should only stay here an hour.

Orin

searches the horizon for trouble

Ba'Raknul

At most.. we still need to make it back for night watch duty.

You break and eat a portion of your rations each, while Orin warily watches the dripping woods about you.

Nothing untoward happens until you finish your dry repast, when you hear a keen, high wailing in the distance, coming from the direction of the farm.

It stops almost as soon as it starts, but you all shudder as though it suddenly got colder.

What do you do?

Biron

jumps to his feet with his axe, sniffs the air, and stares into the blackness

Ba' Raknul

stands again Okay we should go stealthy from here. Orin if you wanna go ahead 30 feet. Throw your hand straight up if we're to stop or shout if its bad.

Orin

That's highly coincidental. Do you think they saw us?

Ba'Raknul

I don’t know.. but if they did or not.. it won’t serve us to rush in.

Orin

nods

rolls a stealth check: 24

Ba'Raknul

rolls a stealth check: 9

Biron

rolls a stealth check: 18

Orin

Sets off ahead, stepping carefully through the brush. Behind them, Ba and Biron follow.

Biron

snarls Time to kill.

The two try to remain quiet, but Ba steps upon a stick by accident. The silence is broken and a startled flock of birds flies from a tree.

Orin

soon comes upon the farm

All seems quiet.

Ba'Raknul

waits for Orin’s signal

There are very clear signs the farmhouse has been attacked. Walls are fallen and the barn is charred as though someone had tried to burn it down.

What do you do?

Orin

raises their hand for the others to stop

Ba'Raknul

halts

Biron

stares around for any movement

All is still except for the dripping of water from the trees above.

Orin

moves quietly about 90 degrees around the farm, looking for details

rolls a perception check: 5

You see nothing untoward.

Biron

Let’s move in.

Orin

climbs a tall tree to see further into the farm's premises.

You get an impression of the internal layout of the farmhouse, and you can see the burned barn. Beyond seems to be some kind of ruin.

The door to the farmhouse appears to have been hacked to pieces.

What do you do?

Orin

walks back to the others and describes what they found

Ba'Raknul

whispers Hmm. Clearly an attack, but what of the wailing?

Biron

steps out and moves towards the buildings

Orin

Someone is clearly alive in there and in some distress. Or they know we're coming and it's a lure.

Ba'Raknul

nods in agreement

Biron

walks to the building where the sound came from and leans against the wall and listens

Ba'Raknul

Orin how do you feel about hiding in the tree there?

points to the tree jutting out a bit

Good vantage point.

Orin

Vantage point for what, exactly?

Ba'Raknul

Well if there’s no threat then no harm no foul... if there is threat then we can lead them into range... gives us an advantage."

Biron

calls out

Orin

And the two of you go in alone? Not that Biron's giving you much of a choice.

Ba'Raknul

looks over at Biron calling out

We'll get ready then, I guess.

unhooks his bow

Orin

rushes quietly to the tree and climbs, knocking an arrow.

As Biron approaches the farmhouse, he spies through the broken door a room that was once a kitchen. It is a a fright, furniture smashed to pieces, cooking utensils scattered everywhere.

Blood spatters the walls.

What does he do?

Biron

looks over to Ba and gestures with his head to follow

Ba'Raknul

moves up on Biron, bow out and ready

Biron

raises axe and steps towards the crack and listens

Silent as the grave, nothing stirs.

Biron

We should move. Be quick, people maybe here.

Ba'Raknul

Hence the idea of bait... however loads an arrow we can do this your way if you want.

Biron

smiles and nods

goes to front door and kicks door in hard and bursts in

Ba'Raknul

follows keeping a 10ft distance and arrow ready

Biron brushes away what little was left of the door and finds himself in what was once a family kitchen, now in disarray. Everything is broken, blood everywhere but... there are no bodies to be seen.

The only thing of note is a pot of soup that has spilled onto its side, spilling the thin gruel across the floor.

There are three other doors from this room.

What do you do?

Ba'Raknul

whispers to Biron On you.

Biron

checks the soup

It is thin - clearly the Livelys were not doing well - and very cold. It must've been some time since it was cooked.

Biron

This happened a while ago.

steps to the first door on the left

You check one of the other doors

Ba'Raknul

nods and moves to one of the other doors

Biron

opens door with shield up and axe held high

Ba'Raknul

opens simultaneously and draws his arrow

Biron’s door opens on what appears to be a pantry. Shelves filled with flour, pickles and various herbs. All strangely undisturbed... what kind of looters leave perfectly good food behind?

Meanwhile, Ba opens a door on what must’ve been a bedroom. This room is filled with sacks of wool and feathers all piled up on the floor. Clearly this is where the Livelys must've slept together in one big pile.

All is still and quiet.

Ba'Raknul

whispers to Biron Clear.

Biron

grunts

almost seems disappointed

steps to next door

Suddenly outside, Orin hears a rustling from the woods... all about them!

Prowling with deadly intent, wolves creep from the trees.

The alpha lets out a clear, mournful howl before the pack runs towards the house and the tree where Orin is!

Orin

whistles loudly

To be continued...