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...