Grisly Eye Games

Fey Magic

Fey Illustration

These are some fey-themed spells I've been working on, mainly relevant for social encounters as part of my forthcoming monograph, The Fey. This book will include new fey-based subclasses, spells, races and monsters for low-fantasy campaigns.

Fey Guide

2nd-level enchantment (ritual)

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a small token that must be worn by the target of the spell, i.e. the feather of a red robin)
Duration: 1 day

A creature you touch gains immunity to the effects of Feywild Magic, including memory loss and time warp, for the duration of the spell. In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against spells cast by fey.

Forget

1st level enchantment

Casting time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous
Components: V, S

You attempt to erase the memory of a humanoid. The target of the spell must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature is hostile to you, it has advantage on the saving throw. If it fails the saving throw, it permanently forgets the last minute from the moment you cast the spell. Any changes to it’s disposition that occurred in the last minute are are also forgotten and reversed.

At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the target forgets up to 10 minutes. If you use a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the target forgets up to 8 hours. If you use a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the target forgets up to 24 hours. If you use a 9th level spell slot, the target forgets up to 1 year.

Heart's Desire

1st level divination

Casting time: 1 bonus action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V

You attempt to read the heart's desire of a humanoid you can see within range. It must make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails the saving throw you learn something about the target. This reveals a single piece of useful information about the target as chosen by the DM. This could be an ideal, bond, flaw or similar personality characteristic.

Speak with Small Beasts

Divination cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: 10 minutes

Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts.

Random Weather

Weather Illustration

Copyright free woodcut from the History of the Nordic Peoples by Olaus Magnus.

These rules for weather are for gritty campaigns where travel is difficult and resources like rations and water are valuable. This is an excerpt from my forthcoming campaign, Black Griffin.

Depending on the season, pick a weather die as per the table below. For example, in Spring you would roll a d6.

Season Die
Spring d6
Summer d8
Autumn d6
Winter d4

Each day of travel make a weather check to determine the weather. Roll the weather die and consult the table below:

Weather Check Weather Condition
0 or less Very Cold. Make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or take 1d10 cold damage per day exposed. Roll with advantage if you’re wearing traveller’s clothes. There is a 1 in 4 chance there is a blizzard, in which case all Perception checks have disadvantage.
1-2 Cold. Make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or take 1d6 cold damage per day exposed. Roll with advantage if you’re wearing traveller’s clothes. There is a 1 in 4 chance there is a storm, in which case all Perception checks have disadvantage.
3-4 Snowing/Raining/Mist. Due to low visibility all Perception checks have disadvantage.
5-6 Mild. No effect.
7-8 Hot. Make a DC 13 Constitution per day exposed. If you fail your saving throw take 1 level of exhaustion. Roll with advantage if you’re wearing traveller’s clothes. Make the saving throw with disadvantage if you’re wearing heavy armour. You can ignore this condition if you double your water rations.
9+ Very Hot. Make a DC 16 Constitution per day exposed. If you fail your saving throw take 2 levels of exhaustion. Roll with advantage if you’re wearing traveller’s clothes. Make the saving throw with disadvantage if you’re wearing heavy armour. You can ignore this condition if you triple your water rations. There is a 1 in 4 chance there is a storm, in which case all Perception checks have disadvantage.

Adjust the roll by the region’s climate modifier (+4 to -4):

Climate Modifier
Polar -4
Cold -4
Temperate 0
Warm +2
Tropical +3
Arid +4

I was aiming to make these rules as simple and flexible as possible. I really like the fact they only use one roll. But I do worry they're a bit swingy: a temperate summer's day could be cold or hot from one day to the next. For anyone who has lived in the UK this may not seem strange, but not sure it's entirely realistic. Maybe the key is to make weather checks less frequent, perhaps once every other day. Or switch the summer weather die from a d8 to a d6+2.

Black Griffin 41 - The Court Martial

In the 12th instalment of Black Griffin in which the party is court martialled fora assaulting an officer...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 41 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

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.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene X: The Court Martial

Last we heard from our band of sellswords they had just been caught brawling by a senior officer, the hard- (and hawk-) nosed Lieutenant Vins. Second only to the Captain of the Black Griffins himself!

Now the party finds themselves chained in the same cellars beneath Larke's ruined manor where they were interrogating prisoners just moments ago, awaiting court marital.

Walter the Scribe appears in his ridiculous periwig. As always, mud spatters his fine clothes and he is attended upon by one of his thin and wiry clerks.

He turns to Ba first.

Walter
Name?
Ba'Raknul

fumbles with his chains.

Ba Raknul.

Walter

Rank?

confers with his clerk.

Ba'Raknul
Corporal.
Walter
You have been charged with assault of a senior officer. How will you be pleading?
Orin

goes from staring sullenly at the floor to suddenly glaring at Walter.

What senior officer?!

Ba'Raknul

looks confused.

Not guilty, I didnt touch anyone and I'm the most senior member here.

Walter's clerk whispers in his ear.

Walter
I believe there was an affray with a... Corporal Biron.
Quinn
clears his throat Beggin' ya pardon squire... but it was only old Quinn here that did any assaulting, so to speak. My friend Orin here shot an arrow at me, by way of warning and it have accidental like hit the other guy - but it was only me with intent like.
Ba'Raknul

Corporal Biron was doing the assaulting.

And even so I never touched anyone.

I was ready to stop it should it go further.

Walter

the Scribe raises his hand.

You'll have to take that all up with Lieutenant Vins. I don't decide these matters, just record them for the Company Charter.

Ba'Raknul
Not guilty then.
Orin

turns their glare to Quinn.

What are you burning talking about, Quinn?

Ba'Raknul

also glares at Quinn.

Don't add more things to their list.

Orin
Ridiculous things!
Ba'Raknul

They have no humour.

For these things.

Quinn
shuffles in his chains Oh, beggin' ya pardon squires - thought we were talking of other like. Forget old Quinn if you would. The cold northern air has got to me brain.
Walter

Yes, I'd listen to the Corporal here. Less said is better when it comes to Vins.

the Scribe turns to Biron.

Name? Rank?

Biron

stands tall, his chains shaking.

Corporal Biron.

Guilty.

plods back down with a thud in silence.

Walter

Ah yes, I remember you corporal. All that nasty business in Whiterock.

Turns to Orin.

Name? Rank?

Orin

goes back to staring at the floor.

Private Orin.

Walter
How will you be pleading?
Orin

sighs.

Not guilty.

Walter
murmurs something to his clerk, who is furiously making notes in the dim light.
Biron

nearly laughs.

Don't think to hard about the justice system... it only hurts.

Walter

Of course, we all recall that mercenaries are notorious for never lying.

rolls his eyes and turns to Quinn.

Name? Rank?

Quinn
goes to doff his non-existent cap before his hands stop him Quinn Wheatsteal, guvnor - private so I am.
Walter

the Scribe raises his eyebrow.

A sellsword with manners? Well I never.

Quinn

smiles and looks off into the distance.

Ah, me ma - the mother bless her soul. She always used to say to me 'Quinn, respect ya...

Walter

the Scribe coughs.

Yes, well, how do you plead, Private Wheatsteal?

Quinn

lets out a deep sigh.

I guess seeing as you ain't gonna be lied to none, I may as well take me lashes up front. Think old Quinn here is to blame for all this nonsense. Since I've arrived I've taken the pleasure of winding up my friend Biron here - probably a little too much. He don't mean nothing by it - he's a good man. But Quinn's got a big mouth, ya know? Guess I'll be pleading guilty on behalf of all of us, if ya take me meaning.

Orin
shifts uncomfortably in their chains, but says nothing.
Walter

Are you sure about that? Brawling is merely a fining offence. Assaulting a senior officer, or just being involved. That's a flogging.

And your... friend here... seems to want to take the blame.

Gestures to Biron.

Quinn
sighs again Well, I ain't never been good at lying none - and if I let him take my beats he'll make my life hell.
Biron

grunts angrily.

I failed. I should be punished.

Quinn
I mean you understand, I don't mean nuffin by it - just was having a bit of fun. Pushed me luck a bit too far some I reckon.
Walter

sniffs.

I'd let him take the fall.

whispers: He's just a Northener.

Quinn
mutters under his breath Tempting as that may be, old Quinn values his teeth. Don't suppose there be any lenience for an old fool who's new to the job like?
Biron
whether he hears the remark or not, goes back to staring at the wall.
Walter

stares blankly at Quinn.

No.

pinches the bridge of his nose.

Again, I'm not the one who needs convincing. You'll be called up soon, so I suggest you spend the time getting your strategy and story straight.

Now, I have other mercenaries to speak to about their court martials.

Good day!

He struts off, clerk scuttling after him.

Quinn
smiles Seemed like a reasonable enough man.
Ba'Raknul

kicks the floor as Walter leaves, once he's gone.

He's a coward... he can go burn.

Orin
is silent.
Ba'Raknul

turns to the rest of the room.

Okay I can stress this enough,... keep it quiet while we're out there... no quips, clever lines... unless you want extra punishment.

They don't care about whats fair.

They care what they think happened.

Play along, don't annoy anyone and we'll get by okay.

Other than that its on you... I warned you.

Quinn
bows in his chains Can only try sir - but I got this annoying face like...
Ba'Raknul

smirks at Quinn.

Just the mouth.

sits a sighs... no its quiet he more softly asks Orin.

You okay?

Quinn
looks over at Biron Well, I can't always help meself none - he's like a kitten. So much fun to play with...
Biron
sits quietly in the corner, staring at the wall like its a window.
Ba'Raknul
If you need to poke poke... but wont be helping once we're out there.. I don't want extra lashings.
Quinn
scratches at his crotch area Anyway, we all agreed then? I'll just take the blame as I was kinda baitin' him some over the last few hours. Way I remember it, he kinda lurched at me to give me the hidin' I was asking for, and poor Orin here found themselves in the way like.
Biron

speaks up again.

No.

You will not take my problem.

Take theirs if you want.

Biron
falls silent again.
Ba'Raknul

sighs.

Quinn it wasn't you... he didn't hear us pretend to let him free.

He thought we'd actually lost him.

Doesn't excuse it!

Ba'Raknul
shoots Biron a look.
Quinn
sniffs Not trying to be a martyr none. But there ain't gonna be no lyin' to these boys - they know their stuff and no mistake. No, I'm gonna 'ave to take the blame - it was me calling him and that gave him the 'ump.
Ba'Raknul

They only care about the fight.

They don't care what happened before.

You can attempt it but with Biron shooting you down they're probably not gonna believe you.

Quinn
''yeah but sir, that fight was my mouth's fault - don't wan you fine folk hatin' on me cos you've swallowed my medicine like''
Ba'Raknul

I intend to plead not guilty as I said.

We might end up taking it with more if you speak and Biron starts.

Like I said I wont order anyone to do anything.. I wont be adding or helping.

Ba'Raknul

sits in the corner again clearly a little bothered.

They don't actually care.. they need someone to punish.

Quinn

struggles to scratch at his nose, his wrist constrained by the chains.

Ya know, if you grow up in the gutters of Kastenburg, a target for every drunk and ne'er-do-well in the city, this 'ere prison room starts to look damn tidy like...

At that moment the party hear a rattling of chains: the grim veterans that guard Larke's mansion are collecting up the ne'er do wells of the camp for court-martialing.

They un-shackle the party from the walls and start leading them up through the winding passages and stairs.

Quinn
doffs his non-existent cap at the guard, smiling broadly.

You find yourselves in what was perhaps once a walled garden, now much overgrown. Vins sits under a tent, eating lunch from a spread of birds, fruits and porks before him, attended by a pair of squawking sycophants.

Quinn
eyes the food hungrily.

Behind him stands Walter, occasionally whispering into his ear.

Miserable looking mercenaries line up to have their cases heard. You have a whiles, but as you slowly trudge towards justice you hear a sharp whisper.

Agata
Fine mess, this time! By the Father, what did you do this time?
Ba'Raknul

bows his head a quietly whispers.

I couldn't control Biron... He went off the wall.

Quinn
mutters He didn't mean nuffin' by it.
Orin
shoots a look at Agata, but only for a second and then they're looking at the ground again.
Agata

turns to Ba.

That's your job! This is the second such mess in merely a week!

Ba'Raknul

I know. He nearly took my head off and then Orins.

whispers quieter so the others dont here.

Besides putting him down I'm out of options.

Agata

turns to Biron.

I should let them flog you.

Biron

stares straight ahead.

Yes ser.

Quinn
clears his throat Beggin' ya pardon ser, but he ain't deservin' of that. He's a fightin' man - why he's so useful round these parts. Couldn't want a better man at me back like. And fighin' men, well they like to fight like. No-one got hurt none.
Agata

turns to Quinn.

Last I checked, Griffin Company is all stocked up on blood-thirsty goons.

You're fetches, you're supposed to be, you know, subtle.

Give me one good reason why I should put in a good word for you?

Orin
says nothing.
Ba'Raknul
Personally ser... you shouldn't.
Quinn

sighs and looks off into the distance again, his eyes unfocused.

Old Quinn here never had much of a family. No father like to speak of. Not till I joined you fine folk like. Biron here has been like a father to me, putting me right when I step out of place, giving me a cuff when I...

He shuffles slightly at the elbow in his side.

Yeah, well you take me meaning sir.

Agata
No I do not take your meaning, Private Quinn. This is a mercenary company, not a family-run farm.

Orin, do you have anything to say about all of this?

Orin
shrugs.
Agata
Very well, come see me after this... if they don't hang you.
Ba'Raknul

nods.

Thank you, ser.

Agata
storms off.
Quinn
smiles to the others Seemed like a reasonable man woman.
Ba'Raknul
head forward and silent now.

It has been observed by great philosophers that time always seems to be at its slowest when certain doom approaches. You've all felt that terrible wait on the battlefield before the call to arms. It seems an age before you are standing before severe, hawk-nosed Lieutenant Vins.

He hits you with a dead-eyed stare, unblinking, as Walter reads out the charges against you.

Vins

Assaulting a senior officer is a serious offence. It's a flogging offence, and the same for anyone who might be involved.

I understand two of you plead guilty?

Biron

steps forward.

They're not senior but I attacked Orin.

Vins

You'll address me as ser!

Which of you is Orin?

Orin
grunts.
Biron

Yes ser.

steps back.

Vins

eyes harrow, his black eyes focussing like a hawk on Orin.

What was that, private?

Orin

doesn't look up from the floor.

Me, ser.

Vins
Is it true, did Corporal Biron attack you?
Orin
Yes, ser.
Vins
You have proof of this?
Orin

I don't know ser.

thinks a moment.

Well I think my arrow wound started bleeding again.

Biron
extends his hand bloodied from the wall.
Vins

eyes Orin and Biron's hand.

Show me this wound.

Orin
pulls up their shirt to reveal bloodied stitches on their side.
Vins

eyes pass over Orin's wound, blood seeping from the pulled stitches. He seems to see everything.

If this is the case, why is Private Quinn also pleading guilty?

Quinn

shuffles forward a little and smiles, bowing as he does so.

Well, see I think I got a little confused like sir. Cos I got a few pains too from the good commander here too. But I wouldn't say attack.

None. No, reprimand like... thats its. I'm sure both meself and my good friend Orin here are grateful for being kept on the straight and narrow like. No attacking, just a bit of discipline like.

Orin

glares at Quinn.

Speak for yourself.

Vins
Confused? You're no longer pleading guilty?
Quinn
smiles nervously Well, I'm guilty of needin' some of the good corporal's discipline, if ya take me meaning some. And fair play to him, sir. hes been kind enough to dish it out when its needed, and no mistake.
Ba'Raknul
keeps his eyes down through Quinns speech.
Vins

This all sounds like an unlikely blood story if you ask me. The law of the Company has it that officers should not be assaulted, and if we make exceptions we risk tipping the camp into anarchy. Officer, have these mercenaries flogged!

In addition, you will be fined ten gold pieces for...

At that moment, a handful of slates fall from the roof of the manor house, crashing noisily behind Vins.

Vins
...repairs to the damage you caused on Larke's property.
Orin
What?
Quinn
steps forward slightly Beggin' ya pardon sir, but am I right in thinking that it's only meself to be flogged. None of me friends here were so stupid to misunderstand the charge none, sir.
Vins

raises an eyebrow.

Did I stutter?

Ba'Raknul

turns and nudges Quinn, hissing quietly.

Shut Up! it will get worse.

Orin 's
face flashes with a world of emotions before settling on despair and turning to the ground once again. They say nothing.
Ba'Raknul
No ser!
Quinn
goes to speak but thinks better of it.

With that they are unceremoniously dragged off. As they depart, one of Vins sycophantic sergeants starts gossiping. I hear they're having a bumper harvest north of the border, while we eat scraps here... Rget do not hear the rest as they are dragged out of the garden and taken outside, to the flogging square.

We do not need to dwell on what happened there, except it happened for all in the camp to see.

Quinn
grits his teeth and talks through the pain Well, take 2 of me gold at least. Gotta pull me fair share some. Not exactly what I'd hoped from this mercenary lark...
Ba'Raknul

I told you to be quiet.

laughs wincing with his new scars.

Quinn
sighs Well me mouth just cost me 2 gold. Shouldn't be costing you more coin though.
Ba'Raknul

Come here and check my Scars... Did they ruin any?

turning to show his back a large snake curves from his chest to centre back.

Quinn
forces a smile Naah, still lookin' 'andsome sir.

The party find themselves back at the fetches' camp, standing around the camp fire near your tents. The mood is subdued, all are weary.

Ba'Raknul

stretches as he cleans the wounds up.

We need to go see Agata... get ready.

Orin
drinks freely from their wineskin.
Quinn

shrugging his shoulders and wincing, he nods to Ba, then tilts his head to one side.

An' everything's worked out with that other one? Helia?

Biron
grunts as he gets ready.
Orin
We'll have to ask Agata.
Ba'Raknul

No clue.

Exactly that.

Seen as we couldnt be the ones to hand them over.

Ba'Raknul

shoots another look at Biron.

We cant be certain.

Quinn
tries to put his fingers to his back and mutters By the mother, think they've wrecked this shirt. A mighty shame that. Was my favourite. Found it a few years back...
Orin

goes to their tent and shrugs their pack over the shoulder with fewer welts. They try to find a comfortable way of slinging their bow around, but elect to hold it in their hand instead.

goes back out to the campfire and drinks while waiting for the rest to be ready.

Ba'Raknul
stands and waits for the group to be ready, his entire chest and stomach area wrapped and bandaged now.
Biron
sits and waits in silence.
Quinn

approaches Orin with his scant belongings over one shoulder, occasionally trying to shift the weight and with a pained look on his face.

throws his pack down and sits on it Never did thank ya none for saving me life back there... I don't forget stuff like that friend.

Orin
doesn't respond, except to pass the wineskin to Quinn.
Quinn
winks and takes a gulp before handing it back.
Quinn
sighs Well, the lieutenant seemed like a reasonable enough fella.
Ba'Raknul
rolls his eyes.
Orin
looks around and sees everyone is there. Silently, they get up and walk to Agata's tent.
Quinn
stands, slings his pack over his shoulder and immediately regrets it and shuffles after Orin.
Ba'Raknul
heads off following Orin.
Biron
marches through the mud towards Agata's tent.
Quinn
lets out a whistle That's a pretty dandy bow ya got there. Elm right? A pretty dandy bow indeed.

You find your way to Agata's tent. Tall and fair Loth stands guard outside. He nods as you approach, and opens the tent for you to enter.

Within it is gloomy and smokey, lit by a couple of lanterns.

Quinn
smiles and nods Much obliged like.
Ba'Raknul
enters trying to walk with as little wince as possible nodding at Loth.

Agata is pouring over her letters and papers, as always.

Agata

looks up.

I heard about the flogging, an ugly business.

Quinn
stands to attention, opens his mouth to speak, looks at Ba, then shuts his mouth.
Orin
stares into the air between themself and Agata.
Ba'Raknul

notices the mouth movement from his left and just smiles.

It is what it is, ser.

Agata

Vins is a bit too liberal with the floggings, if you ask me.

But no one does on account of how I'm just a sergeant.

Lets keep our tempers in check, in future.

Agata
nods to Biron.
Biron

growls.. before nodding.

Yes, ser.

Agata
Very good. Now, tonight... what is the plan?
Ba'Raknul

First ser, I wanted to ask.

Did the handoff to Helia go well?

Agata

It did. Helia left chasing traitors, and she seemed happy with the job lot we gave her.

Hopefully, we've satisfied the king's bailiffs and their insatiable curiosity... for a while.

Ba'Raknul

sighs a little relieved.

Well thats one bit of good news.

Orin
eyes Biron for a reaction.
Biron
stoney face twitches but manages to remain relatively blank.
Agata

Indeed, well done on that.

Of course, they wouldn't have been here in the first place if not for that mess in Dismas.

But we're in the clear.

For now.

Ba'Raknul

As to tonight... We only managed to obtained one card.

The Five of Coins.

Which unfortunately means only one of us can be sat in the game.

My suggestion for that is Orin or Quinn.

Quinn
sighs Always liked a card game. Won these trews in one a couple of years back and they've served me well enough. But the stakes 'ere may be a little high for old Quinn. Little worried I may drop us all in it. Never been good at the pretending lark, if ya takes my meaning some.
Ba'Raknul
I'm too noticeable but you don't seem a talker... and Biron... well.
Agata
Indeed.
Ba'Raknul
If you're not feeling entirely on it Orin?
Orin
I can do it.
Quinn
scratches at his stubble I mean I don't mind none - but I'll 'ave to take instructions from ya good selves. And if we go off script some, we could be in the hot brown, if ya pardon me expression ma'am.
Ba'Raknul

And what if its not real.

We need someone there to confirm it before we go rounding people up.

Too easy to play it off as we have no evidence.

Once one of us has been given our order we can move.

The rest of us can hide nearby, either as drunkards or just in a tent hiding.

Quinn

grins Now, drunk, I can play.

But in all seriousness, if Orin don't fancy it none, Quinn'l do it. But Orin may be the smarter choice and no mistake.

Ba'Raknul
Orin? you've been awfully quiet.
Orin
I said I can do it.
Ba'Raknul

Sorry didn't hear you. Good. In which case.., how does Quinn and Biron nearby drinking the night away and me covering from stealth.

I might be able to even cover from a watch tower.

Orin
shrugs.
Ba'Raknul

looks to Orin.

I wouldn't mind a second pair of eye up in the tower?

Quinn

nods Aye, their bow has come in sure handy before now, and no mistake. Old Quinn's still got his skin for sure. Well, the bits that ain't flayed none at least.

looks to Ba I can join ya with my bow. I'm no shot like Orin here, but I can pull a string if ya take my meaning.

Orin
I don't care either way.
Ba'Raknul

I'd rather have Orin away from Biron for now.

eyes flick to them both.

No offence.

Orin
shrugs.
Quinn
frowns at Orin You alright there friend? If it's killing that guy, don't be sad none. Ya saved my life and one of us, me or him, was gonna die.
Agata

Very well, it sounds like you have a plan. I suggest you all rest-up before midnight.

You all look like shite!

Orin
ignores Quinn.
Quinn
pulls a mock offended look.
Agata
If there is nothing else?
Orin

starts to leave the tent before stopping and awkwardly turning to Agata.

No, ser.

Quinn
shuffles nervously Well, I don't s'pose ya got any wine - for pouring on the wounds like. Takes the sting out like...
Agata
raises an eyebrow.
Orin

turns and kicks Quinn in the shin.

Shut up.

Agata
Do I look like a tavern keeper, Private Quinn?
Quinn
smiles No, thought not ser.
Agata
Very good, dismissed!
Orin
leaves without another word.
Quinn

nods.

Much obliged.

walks quickly to catch up with Orin Hey, what's the problem friend. 'ave I offended you some?

Ba'Raknul

leaves and heads straight to rest.

Meet at the fetch camp fire an hour before.

leaves.

Orin
also leaves, but in the direction of the traders' stalls.
Quinn
nods and casts a worried look at Ba Aye ser.
Biron
stomps off in the direction of his tent.
Quinn
stands alone, deserted in all directions for a few moments. Then shrugs and whistling to himself heads towards his tent.

It is late when you head to your tents, and you all manage a few hours rest. You sleep fitfully on your sores, and awaken feeling less tired, but still very exhausted.

You start out on the night's grim business with a dark cloud hanging over your heads, despite the clear night sky that evening.

To be continued...

Corruption and Necrotic Injury

Stress Illustration

The Dance of Death, public domain image taken from the Nuremberg Chronicles.

Damage. It is at the heart of rules for Dungeons & Dragons. Hit points are God and I've been exploring how to make them more versatile.

This is an excerpt from my forthcoming monograph, The Harrowed that expands on the variant rules for corruption, sanity and lingering injuries in Chapter 9 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Variant: Corruption

In this low-fantasy variant arcane magic is not meant for mortals. Its use imperils the soul and corrupts the body.

Once per turn, the DM can have a a player roll a d20 immediately after their character casts a 1st-9th level sorcerer, warlock or wizard spell. This does not include cantrips.

On a roll of 1 their character takes necrotic damage. The damage taken is determined by the level of the spell slot used to cast the spell. See the table below. This may also result in a lingering necrotic injury (see below).

Spell Slot Level Necrotic Damage
1st 2d6
2nd 4d6
3rd 6d6
4th 7d6
5th 8d6
6th 11d6
7th 12d6
8th 13d6
9th 14d6

Variant: Lingering Necrotic Injuries

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

Lingering Necrotic Injuries
d20 Necrotic Injury
1 Corrupted Essence. Necrotic energies corrupt your blood, turning your veins black, white or green. Every time you take a long rest you must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or you take 1d10 necrotic damage as the foul energies eat you from within. Magic such as a greater restoration spell can restore your blood.
2 Withered. The necrotic damage seeps into your body, either withering your flesh as though you were mummified or rotting. This permanently weakens you and your Strength and Constitution are reduced by 2 to a minimum of 1. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, restores your body.
3 Sunlight Sensitivity. Your become very pale and averse to sunlight. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your skin and this penalty.
4 Second Head. You grow a second head on your chest, back or shoulders that speaks with your voice, but despises you. It speaks aloud every secret thought you have and contradicts you at every turn. You automatically fail all Charisma (Deception or Persuasion) checks you make against anyone who can hear you and understand you. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your second head.
5-7 Third Eye. Necrotic energies warp your flesh, causing you to grow a monstrous third eye on your forehead, the palm of your hand or your chest. You can choose to open your third eye as a bonus action. Make a DC 13 Charisma saving throw. On a success you gain truesight out to a range of 60 feet. If you fail the saving throw you instead catch a glimpse of the things that linger beyond human ken and are frightened for 1 minute and cannot move. If you roll a 5 or less you also gain a lingering psychic injury from the Lingering Psychic Injuries table. Magic such as the regenerate spell can remove your third eye.
8-10 Withered arm or hand. An arm or hand withers so it is skeletal or blackens. You cannot wield heavy weapons and make all Strength ability checks with disadvantage when using your hands or arms. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.
11-13 Withered leg or foot. A leg or foot withers so it is skeletal or blackens. Your speed is reduced by 5 feet. You must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw after using the Dash action. If you fail the save, you fall prone. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.
14-16 Psychic Lash. The necrotic damage lashes past your defences, corrupting your mind. Roll on the Lingering Psychic Injuries table instead (see lingering psychic injuries).
17-20 Witch's Mark. The necrotic damage marks your body in some way that singles you out as corrupted and you may need to hide it. Roll on the Witch Marks table below. Magic such as a lesser restoration spell can remove the mark.
Witch Marks
d4 Mark
1 You grow a large, furry spot somewhere on your body.
2 Your eyes turn completely white, red or black.
3 Your nose smoothes flat and your nostrils become slits.
4 Your skin is as cold as ice to the touch.

Black Griffin 40 - The Hand Over

In the 11th instalment of Black Griffin in which the party partakes of a double-cross and buys themselves some time...

This campaign diary taken from the in-character chat channel from session 40 of my ongoing playtest campaign, lightly polished and annotated.

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.

Black Griffin Encampment Map Preview
Scene IX: The Hand Over

When we last left our collection of curmudgeonly crooks, they had learned of a meeting of spies and turncoats: a mysterious game of cards played at midnight.

There was a high toll to learn this information, and we join Biron as he emerges from the foul cellars-turned-oubliette of Captain Larke's manor house.

After the gloom of the cellars, it seems incredible that it is daylight outside, and Biron blinks in the sunlight.

Biron

storms out, striding forward with his axe in hand.

roars loudly, picking up some old wooden barrel and hurling it as far as he could with a roar of ridiculous anger. He seems oblivious to anyone around him.

stays silent a moment and looks back at the house.

They should die!

Traitorous, honor-less slugs.

Helia
If anyone'll be burning traitors, it'll be I.
Biron
glances up at this comment. a little bit surprised but no less angry.

Biron is surprised by the sound Helia's voice, and turns around to see the stern northerner accompanied by her surly bailiffs and Ba'Raknul, here to collect her dues.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Orin emerge from the scullery door of Larke's manor house, dragging Eggard between them.

Eggard
Where are you taking me?
Orin
We don't break our promises, Eggard.
Quinn
scratches at a spot on his chin Takin' ya somwhere where ya can take ya self I be thinkin'. But that would be up to my friend here, o'course.
Orin
holds Eggard's pack tightly in their opposite hand.
Eggard

looks from Quinn to Orin, searching for the lie in their faces.

You're joking?

You're actually going to let me go?

Orin
looks for anyone dangerous to their plan in the area.
Quinn
''No, joke none. Folk of honour us. That's what ya was promised. In fact, we aint none to turn ya out without the means of survival...'
Eggard
Means of... survival?
Quinn

subtly winks to Orin then turns back to Eggard.

Here, take some coin - so ya can buy some food when you find an outpost or village.

Orin
reappraises Quinn after seeing this generousity.

Orin furiously scans the crowds of milling company men and women... so far seems all clear.

Orin
holds Eggard tight and moves for the nearest gate.
Eggard
eagerly takes the coins, tears forming in his eyes at the generosity.

He seems completely speechless.

Orin
Let's go.
Quinn
nods and pushes Eggard gently forward.
Orin

whispers:

Slowly.

We're being followed.

Quinn
stops and bends to adjust his boots, subtly looks behind him as he does so.

Quinn spots a man, head completely hairless, sporting several elaborate piercings, rings and chains about his ears, trying to appear nonchalant.

He is clearly following Quinn and Orin though.

Orin

still whispering:

Can we lose him in the tents?

Quinn

stands and continues to walk, whispering in reply.

Could try, or do you want me to block his path, delay him some while you take our friend here beyond the perimeter some?

Quinn and Orin find themselves at the row of tents housing traders, catamites, and purveyors of dubious foods, that leads to the South Gate exit to the camp.

Orin
Here. Let's duck into a trader's tend and slip under the back wall.
Quinn
nods Aye, if not, I may be able to cause a distraction like...
Orin
That could work.
Quinn
whisper Yeah... you go on some... I'll try to hold him up.
Orin

leads Eggard to the trader's tent.

Eggard. No funny business. We may have set you free, but that just makes you a traitor to them. You want to get home in one piece, don't you?

Eggard
nods mutely.
Orin
pretends to be looking at an item near the front of the tent.
Quinn
clears his throat, adjusts his trews slightly and heads with feigned confidence back the way they came towards the bald stranger.
Quinn

as he approaches he grins and nods slightly at the man 'Scuse me guv'ner - don't s'pose ya could change some coin could ya?

fumbles around in his purse.

Mercenary
licks his lips, pauses a moment, then goes for his sword.
Orin
seeing Quinn has engaged the stranger, they duck out of the tent and run into the tents on the way to the South Gate.

Quinn gets the draw on the pierced mercenary.

Mercenary
FOR THE FOLK!
Quinn
stops up short of the man, seeing him reach for his sword and quickly pulls his bow.
Quinn
mutters Ye ain't coming closer guv'nor.

Quinn's arrow strikes the pierced mercenary in the left shoulder, knocking him back slightly. Unfortunately, he seems un-fazed by the attack and proceeds to draw his sword and approach.

Quinn
backs off 30 foot.

Clearly the man is right-handed, unfortunately.

Orin

This way, Eggard. Use the tents for cover.

ducks into the tents out of the man's line of sight.

guides Eggard further toward the South Gate as swift as they can.

With Eggard in tow, Orin weaves between the camp follower tents and makes it to the end of the row. The gate is just 30 feet away.

Meanwhile, the pierced mercenary dives behind the wagon of the apple trader, pulls out a rather large and lethal looking crowsbow and aims it at Quinn.

Quinn
screams I didn't mean nuffin' by it!

A bolt shoots and lands at Quinn's feet, burying itself in the hard soil up to the feathers. Quinn pauses momentarily to wonder what it would've done if it had hit his body!

Quinn
curses and returns fire.

Quinn's longbow shoots true, but hits the wood of the cart the mercenary is hiding behind. He gets a face full of wood splinters, but is otherwise unharmed.

Quinn

moves back to crouch behind a wagon, peering round and readying himself for the mercaneries next move.

(back another 30ft if there's space - so around 65ft away or so)

Orin

stands up tall.

Act normal.

walks to the gate and out to the left behind the wall.

The pierced mercenary is too preoccupied to notice Orin as they causally saunter to the gate. They find themselves standing outside the camp, the blasted waste of the Front spread out before them.

Orin

This is it, Eggard.

I have to go help my friend.

Eggard

seems to pause a moment, looking back into the camp with what seems to be longing... almost as though he was being dragged back by... something.

turns to Orin.

Come with me! Fuck the Three Kings, and fuck this war!

Orin
Believe me, I'm thinking about it. But I'm not ready for that yet. I don't know how to live on the lamb. You've got that writ, but not me.
Eggard
nods, and then runs off.
Orin
Run!
Eggard
They'll win, you know!
Orin
shrugs.

And with that he's gone.

Orin
grins slyly before turning and running back to Quinn.

Meanwhile, camp followers are scattering and screaming as they notice the bolts and arrows flying about their heads.

Quinn
shouts Don't mind us, none!
Mercenary

moves closer, darting between running camp followers and ducks behind a pile of crates closer to Quinn's position.

From his hiding place he fires another bolt at Quinn's head.

Quinn is too well covered, and the bolt harmlessly shatters the wheel of the wagon he's hiding behind.

Quinn
draws and looses another hopeful arrow.

The arrow strikes the pierced traitor in the right shoulder this time, sending him spinning.

Mercenary
Shit, shit!

He's clearly very afeared of Quinn's fine aim.

Quinn
crouches back behind the wagon.
Orin

slides between tents, positioning themself so that the commonwealth spy is clear in their view.

jumps out, arrow knocked and shoots, shouting...

COMMONWEALTH TRAITOR!

Quinn's arrow strikes true, hitting the traitor in the side of his face, sending shattered pieces of gold chains and rings of his piercings flying, as well as his jaw.

He slumps to the ground, dead.

Orin

breathes heavily.

Thank the father.

Quinn help me drag him back to the manor.

Quinn

staggers to his feet and runs his hand under his running nose Aye aye, will do...

mutters.

Best pick up these jewels and stuff first though right? Don't want 'em getting lost none.

scrabbles about the floor picking up the chains and rings.

Orin

shrugs.

Why not. See if he's got anything problematic on him while you're looking.

Quinn

looks up as he does so Hates to say it, but I reckons it best this be split among the men - let em know some that theres wealth in loyalty - if ya takes my meaning some.

nods Aye, will do.

Orin
I don't give a damn about loyalty or gold. Do what you like.
Quinn
shrugs ... ain't like no-one will be squealing about this as we speak anyway I figure.

Quinn collects what looks like about two gold pieces worth of shattered gold rings and chain piercings.

Quinn
stuffs em in one grubby pocket and goes and takes the man's legs.
Orin
grabs the shoulders and leads them toward the manor.

It is not an unusual sight to see dead bodies being carried through the camp, so the pair of fetches barely get a second glance before they arrive at Larke's House just a second after Helia and Ba'Raknul show up.

Helia

turns to Quinn and Orin.

Corporal Ba'Raknul, what is this?

Ba'Raknul
looks at the two and to the man.
Quinn
mutters closing his eyes momentarilly Mother watch over you, let your spirit depart your sins with your flesh.
Ba'Raknul

These are the two who were escorting Corporal Eggard.

I dont know who he is.... Orin who is he?

Biron
growls in the background.
Orin
You mean chasing Corporal Eggard, Ba? Off the traitor's tip he'd be escaping?
Biron
glaring at Ba, Orin and Quinn.
Orin
This one got in our way and stopped us from catching him.
Helia

shrugs.

Eggard won't get far.

Ba'Raknul

looks in shock to play along.

He escaped? which way did he go.. and where did this one come from.

Quinn

opens his eyes, sees Biron and winks.

Don't fret ye none - we're fine.

Helia
nods to two of her large, adult bailiffs who run off towards the South Gate.
Biron
looks at Quinn like he is about ready to plant his axe deep into him.
Orin
Pardon us, Sergeant. We're all very shocked by catching these traitors. And four, now. Not just three!
Helia
looks between the four of you, warily, pushing her weight from one crutch to t'other.
Biron
growls.
Quinn
shakes one leg of the corpse This one stopped us giving chase, so he did - then drew his blade on me! Was only my friend Orin saving me skin or it would be old Quinn being carried about stiff like. If ye take me meaning some.
Orin

Those two downstairs, the puffy-eyed one confessed to your business in Dismas. Said the third was stealing away in the night.

Quinn and I... we almost caught him!

Helia

raises a hand to stay you.

I don't know what's really going on, and to be honest, I don't care. As long as I get some traitors.

Bring 'em out.

Orin
Of course. Biron, would you help me?
Ba'Raknul.
nods and gives a motion.
Biron
snarls and glares at Orin.
Ba'Raknul
already moving to the door.
Biron
pushes a passing mercenary out of the way and walks into the mansion.
Quinn
lowers the legs to the floor and stretches That was quite disturbing. I'm quite shook so I am.
Orin
follows quickly after.
Quinn
follows.
Biron

the moment they get into the house and is away from view and ear shot. Biron spins around and pushes Orin to the wall furiously.

"YOU. LET. HIM. GO"

Ba'Raknul

hears the commotion and goes back staying near.

That was the plan Biron.

Orin
I also set him up to get caught again immediately and burned a traitor, Biron.
Biron
snarls and lifts Orin up off the ground enraged at this.
Orin

Not everything has to happen on your time scale of instant gratification, you burning meat hammer!

spits in Biron's face with each syllable.

Ba'Raknul

prepares to tackle Biron.

If you start attacking your team mates you're as much a traitor as them.

Biron
shouts with rage.
Ba'Raknul
I'm done with this crap.
Quinn
tries to push between the two We got enough peeps trying to hurt us some, don't need to find enemies in allies like.
Biron
lifts his fist to punch orin with one of his dusters.

Quinn grabs Biron around the waist, stopping him in his tracks... although now Quinn has an armful of northern berserker to contend with.

Biron

growls at Quinn but throws a punch at Orin.

misses and slams his hand into the wall. growls in anger but just drops Orin to the floor.

stops his aggression. Though now glares at Quinn holding his waist. Stares eye to eye.

Orin

slips out from between Biron and the Wall and hesitates, eyeing Biron's vulnerable bits before moving off near Ba.

They stand, half looking away, heaving with their own sort of rage.

Vins
ATTENTION!
Ba' Raknul
stands and salutes.
Quinn
half draws his rather fine looking rapier.
Biron
stands up tall.

The party all turn as one to see the looming figure of Lieutenant Vins accompanied by a retinue of his most grizzled veterans. This tall man towers over them, his great, thick black beard hanging off his infamous even greater, hawk-like nose.

Vins
DROP YOUR WEAPONS!
Biron
drops his weapons and stays silent.
Quinn
lets his rapier fall back into its sheath, then runs his hand under his dripping nose again.
Ba'Raknul
stands awkwardly holding no weapon.
Orin
continues to stand in place, heaving, hands empty.
Vins

turns to his men.

Arrest them. Take them down to the cellar. We can court martial them after lunch.

Quinn
snaps to attention Yes sir!
Ba'Raknul

sighs and just mutters.

Who needs enemies when we've got a Biron.. tearing us apart from the inside.

To be continued...